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Nov 27 2011

There is no one true Skepticon

I missed a whole series of good talks on the final day of Skepticon, all because I have this job and these responsibilities and I had to fly back so I’d be prepared to teach the next day. Fortunately, Hambone Productions did a fine job of recording everything, and edited presentations are gradually appearing on the web. JT Eberhard’s talk on mental illness is highly recommended. I say that even though I have no mental illnesses at all. Well, no diagnosed, treatable mental problems that are recognized by psychiatrists as something different from the normal range of human weirdnesses, anyway.

Hmmm. I wonder if any of the Guardians of Skeptical Conference Purity will show up to denounce that as not part of the accepted traditional purview of skepticism?

I also missed this other deviation from the ethereal perfection of the refined gentleman’s version of skepticism, so if you need a pick-me-up after JT’s troubles, here’s Hula Hoop Chick.

I think they both advanced the cause of atheism.

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  1. 1
    Heehaw

    Lots of skillz being showed off at Skepticon… I personally went for the great gelato…

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    I say that even though I have no mental illnesses at all. Well, no diagnosed, treatable mental problems that are recognized by psychiatrists as something different from the normal range of human weirdnesses, anyway.

    In clinical psychological terms, this condition is known as being stark staring bonkers.

  3. 3
    Glen Davidson

    Mental illness isn’t your fault? True, but then what is? And what is to your credit?

    The problem is that we can’t really totally get rid of credit and blame, nor do they have any real basis in fact, any more than a computer deserves credit or blame for working well or otherwise.

    Probably the best we can do is to understand that some are well beyond the ability of credit and blame to affect them appropriately. Generally, this is what we call mental illness.

    Glen Davidson

  4. 4
    LykeX

    That hula show was quite impressive. Didn’t watch the other video. It sounded like it would be a downer.

  5. 5
    Inaji

    JT, :applause: That took courage, thank you.

  6. 6
    Moggie

    Hopefully “hula hoop chick” is what she wants to be called, otherwise it seems a little disrespectful to someone with an impressive talent. I’m skeptical about those trousers, though: not a good look.

  7. 7
    Glen Davidson

    I’m skeptical about those trousers, though: not a good look.

    No, but I wondered if they were like that for the sake of skin friction, which I suspect “grips” a hula hoop rather better than does denim.

    Even if that’s it, though, shorts would look better–unless for some reason skin on one side and cloth on the other is useful for her tricks.

    Glen Davidson

  8. 8
    Grumps

    Thanks JT,
    from a suicidal, depressive addict who is probably only alive today thanks to SSRIs

    And thanks Hula Hoop chick… that makes being alive a little more worth the effort. Beautiful.

    And hey LykeX #4 Yeah, ain’t reality a downer.. let’s just not look, huh?

  9. 9
    JDStackpole

    Maybe the “open-front” trousers are needed to supply friction when working the hoop with her legs.

    Just an ex-physicist wondering here.

  10. 10
    Inaji

    Grumps:

    let’s just not look, huh?

    I don’t expect people in the atheist/skeptic community to be any more comfortable with the subject of mental illness. I liked JT’s talk, it’s an important subject and it took courage to talk about it.

    I expected a lot of stupid jokes on this thread (and there will be more) because that’s one way people deal with things that make them uncomfortable.

    I’m glad you found a way to deal with your problems, Grumps. I eventually found a way past mine, which I’m grateful for. (I used to slice myself, my arms are covered in scars.)

  11. 11
    Grumps

    Caine, Fleur du Mal,

    Thanks, though although still alive I can’t honestly say my problems are fully dealt with.
    I’m so glad you’ve stopped hurting yourself. That’s such a sad and horrid thing. There’s a young colleague of mine who has scars all over her arms and occasionally has a couple of days off work and comes back with bandages or obviously new scars. She generally keeps herself well covered, but the nature of my work means there are times she can’t hide them. I find it so sad, and just want to help her but don’t really know how without breaking some social taboos. I’ve managed to chat to her on a cigarette break (we’re both smokers of course)about my past suicide attempts and am kind of hoping she’ll feel able to talk if and when she needs to… any advice?

  12. 12
    burpster

    As someone that has battled social anxiety for 40 odd years, I really appreciated JT’s talk. God may be many things, but a chemist and electrician he most certainly isn’t. Thank you science and Corona.

  13. 13
    Sili

    I personally went for the great gelato…

    He has skillz, but I still think the amazing randi is better.

  14. 14
    Inaji

    Grumps:

    I’ve managed to chat to her on a cigarette break (we’re both smokers of course)about my past suicide attempts and am kind of hoping she’ll feel able to talk if and when she needs to… any advice?

    This is a tough one. I’m not a doctor of any kind, please keep that in mind. Cutting is generally the result of life long abuse. Abuse which has been very, very bad. Chances are good that your co-worker has also been dealing with PTSD as well. In the most general terms, cutting tends to be a way you can demonstrate that you are still alive, still capable of feeling something. It can also be a way of punishing yourself and working off guilt feelings. So, you see, it’s complex, like most mental problems.

    I think what you’re doing right now is good, you’re letting her know that you’re open minded and not judgmental and that you’re available. I’d keep that up and if an opportunity arises to exchange phone numbers or go out to lunch or something, jump on it (so to speak.) I think keeping the subject on yourself and how you’ve dealt with things in your own life is the best and safest course for now. Cutters don’t tend to talk about what they are doing and will go to great lengths to keep it secret.

  15. 15
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    I watched the video this morning. It’s a downer only in the sense that I cried watching it. Other than that, it’s an… whatever word is used for the opposite of a downer. So much courage, such an honest message that most people are too scared or uncomfortable to make is needed.

    It really helps. I’m not fond of google/armchair or any other kind of non-professional diagnosing, but it’s pretty obvious to me that my mental state is not exactly what most would consider normal. I’m not keen on seeking an actual professional opinion, but hearing people talk so openly about their psychological issues helps at least a little bit. And it may steer someone braver than me to seek professional help, or at least talk openly to someone close to them. The way society treats mental illness and people suffering from any of them is disgusting. I’m glad someone is trying to change that.

  16. 16
    nunyabidness

    I had to stop watching and come back so many times. I’ve been fighting food my whole life in the exact opposite way and until now I never understood just exactly what I was doing. I have been on SSRI’s on and off for 5 years now and I always come to a point where I start to sort of conveniently forget that I’m crazy and I stop taking them. Right now I’m on them but I was getting dangerously close to feeling like I was better again. I don’t know whether I want to thank JT for kicking my ass into reality or kick his ass for making me cry so fucking much but I’m glad I saw the vid.

  17. 17
    Psychotic Atheist

    Thanks PZ, for posting about this one. It has been mentioned on just about every skeptic blog that I read, but your’s is the one with by far the highest traffic and I feel it is an important issue.

    Beatrice – I hope JT’s story will encourage you to seek help, if your mental state is causing you distress. I know it was one of the hardest things I ever did, telling a doctor about my paranoid delusions, but it was definitely worth it. The reaction wasn’t to lock me up in a small room and pump me full of toxic chemicals as I had feared for the 18 years I lived with it untreated.

  18. 18
    Grumps

    Thanks Caine,
    I am pretty good at keeping the subject on myself (nice to know this could be a good thing for once :-) *I know… horrid smilie, but it felt appropriate*)She has (just last week) mentioned some of her family problems and that she is a recovering anorexic. So maybe she’s beginning to see me as someone she can trust. I hope so.

  19. 19
    JT Eberhard

    @nunyabidness #16,

    *hug* We give each other strength when we’re honest about what we are. Thank you for being open.

    JT

  20. 20
    Inaji

    Grumps:

    She has (just last week) mentioned some of her family problems and that she is a recovering anorexic. So maybe she’s beginning to see me as someone she can trust. I hope so.

    I’d say that’s really positive. Good work!

  21. 21
    Sili

    I’m mildly annoyed I can’t hear the shouts from the audience.

    Thank you for this. I guess I shouldn’t expect to be able to get off the SSRIs after all. I’m just glad I’ve never had it as bad as JT or nunyabidness.

    –o–

    Incidentally: Why “pussy”?

  22. 22
    Jim

    I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the hula hooper. You go girl.

  23. 23
    Kaje

    #12 burpster- As a fellow socially anxious person, I offer hugs and fistbumps.

    *hugs*

    *fistbumps*

  24. 24
    Grumps

    @ nunyabidness

    Citalopram (Cipramil) has been my SSRI “of choice” on and off for about ten years now. It helps.

    You’re right to identify the “I’m feeling OK so I can now stop the meds” problem. Been there too.
    Good luck, and keep taking the tablets.

  25. 25
    Lizzie

    Sili: “Incidentally: Why ‘pussy’?”

    I was wondering that, too–or, perhaps more accurately, I kept thinking, “You keep saying ‘pussy’ like that’s a bad thing…” ;)

    Even so, though, that was an exceptional talk. I’m clinically depressed, too, and there was so much there that resonated with me, starting with the part about people being cheerful. I’m definitely one of those cheerful, loving, happy people… who just happens to loathe herself a lot of the time. :\

  26. 26
    Psychotic Atheist

    @ Sili

    Pussy doesn’t necessarily refer to female genitalia. Some wordsmiths have suggested that when it is used to denote cowardice, it might have been derived from the ‘pusillanimous’. The two words may therefore have different origins. It isn’t, as many people assume, implying that somehow vaginas are weak-willed or something like that.

  27. 27
    Toiletman

    Wait, you got no diagnosed treatable[...]mental illness? What about untreatable ones? ;)

    Well, atleast in my case it’s both I guess. Theoretically, depression (not going too much into details here) is treatable but unlike to one of the other commenters, SSRI did not offer me any help. Nor did SNRI, Tri or tetracyclics or any other kind of anti depressant. Been through all over the years. Oh, and therapy didn’t help either.

  28. 28
    Sili

    PA,

    We’ve had the discussion before, and I think the general consensus is that “etymology ain’t destiny”. It doesn’t really matter what the origins of the word is; as it stands the common connotation is to women and their disgusting vulvae as being weeping and weak.

  29. 29
    RBOQ

    PZ Myers, I hate you so much! I hope you die soon, you little piece of shit!

    [In a cosmic sense, I will be dead in an eyeblink...so you'll get your wish. I hope that brings you a sense of peace.

    Of course, you'll be dead in an eyeblink, too. --pzm]

  30. 30
    Inaji

    RBOQ, why don’t you go pray about it?

  31. 31
    Grumps

    In this context “pussy” means to me a scared little pussy cat. Nothing to do with vaginas at all. In fact I’d never thought of “stop being such a pussy” as meaning anything else until now. Damn you homonyms!

  32. 32
    Psychotic Atheist

    @Sili

    It doesn’t really matter what the origins of the word is; as it stands the common connotation is to women and their disgusting vulvae as being weeping and weak.

    That connotation may be the one you have, but it isn’t necessarily the one the speaker has. Any criticism of the speaker should be about how he was using the word, the pragmatics of the situation and all.

    You are of course, absolutely free to dislike the word being used, but I think for the sake of sanity (ahem) – it would be wise to bare in mind the intentions of the speaker, rather than the possible connotations that you personally hold, or believe that others hold.

  33. 33
    Grumps

    … and given what we know about JT, and watching him use the term in the video, which meaning do you think he had in mind?

  34. 34
    Grumps

    RBOQ… That’s not nice. Are you OK? We can help.

  35. 35
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    You are of course, absolutely free to dislike the word being used, but I think for the sake of sanity (ahem) – it would be wise to bare in mind the intentions of the speaker, rather than the possible connotations that you personally hold, or believe that others hold.

    I’m pretty sure someone just got themselves excommunicated… ;/

  36. 36
    Sili

    I do not think JT had any connotations in mind. Neither do most people who complain about “bitching”.

    That still doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to continue using the word, if it’s likely to perpetuate the unfortunate connotations.

  37. 37
    Realee

    Caine @14

    I agree with most all of what you said. (I’m a crisis worker and years ago also self-injured, so did a lot of research on the topic… still I’m by no means an expert and my own experience can color my view so take what I say with a grain of salt.) It’s always gratifying to see someone with an open approach to this problem who understands that there are many contributing factors. That being said, I do want to point out that it’s not “generally” associated with abuse. It certainly can be a contributing factor and there is a positive correlation between the two, but like you said it’s a complex behavior with a lot of contributing factors. It is something those with no history of abuse deal with too.

    I’d say generally, it’s associated with difficulty in coping with an emotion or an emotional level. It can be a release, like you said it can remind someone they can feel and are alive, it can make someone feel like they have control over their body, and treating the wound can be therapeutic as well. (A visualization of difficult emotions or pain other than emotional numbness and treating it.) I find it valuable to remember it’s a coping mechanism. It’s a struggle to handle something you feel you can’t otherwise. There are a lot of dangerous and harmful coping mechanisms out there anorexia, alcoholism, self-injury just being a few. Comparing it to those things we have a better handle on can make it easier to understand.

    @Grumps

    I agree completely that being there and letting her know that you’re open and that you are willing to listen can be the biggest thing. Great approach on your part. It can feel like a really abnormal behavior that people will reject you for. Many will. (A reason work can be one of the scarier places to talk about it.) It’s great that your showing her you’re there for her.

  38. 38
    Psychotic Atheist

    @Sili

    That still doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to continue using the word, if it’s likely to perpetuate the unfortunate connotations

    Which is why I used information about the probable origins of a word to help dispel the connotations. It is very unlikely that the skeptic movement is going to expunge the word from common colloquial use, but we can educate people to think of ‘cowardice’/'pusillanimous’ rather than ‘vagina’ when they hear the word in a certain context. This seems to me to be a more constructive tactic.

  39. 39
    Bromion

    You can Like hula hoop girl on FB: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Calliope/118208188201587

  40. 40
    Grumps

    if it’s likely to perpetuate the unfortunate connotations.

    but I really don’t think it is. Not here in the UK anyway.

    If I say “I was about to hit the idiot on the nose, but I’m too much of a pussy to do it”, I know that none of my friends or acquaintances will think of vaginas. They will think of me as a scared little….. well, pussy (cat).

  41. 41
    Inaji

    Well, so much for a good discussion on the ongoing stigma of mental illness.

    Realee, thanks. In my experience, it’s been associated with abuse or deep seated guilt, but of course, I should have made it clear that my experience hardly speaks for all.

  42. 42
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I don’t see the discussion ending.

  43. 43
    Psychotic Atheist

    @ Caine

    Well, so much for a good discussion on the ongoing stigma of mental illness.

    Lemme think of some of stigmas:

    1. Dismissal of anything you say because “you’re crazy”

    2. Fear of the victim/sufferer being dangerous (particularly true of psychosis and bipolarity)

    3. For atheists, admitting you have a mental illness such as depression is used as evidence that without God a person has no hope, only despair. (Ignoring all the depressed theists, naturally)

    4. The idea that the sufferer needs to ‘pull themselves together’ as if the disease is down to a failure of mental discipline.

    Any others you can think of?

  44. 44
    Sili

    Caine, Fleur du Mal says:

    Well, so much for a good discussion on the ongoing stigma of mental illness.

    Sorry for the derailing. Carry on.

  45. 45
    Inaji

    PA, that’s an excellent list. 2 and 3 in particular, as I know people who have to deal with those on a regular basis. I would add:

    5. A presumption of low intelligence.

    I see that one with a particular friend of mine, who is a paranoid schizophrenic. She’s very intelligent and a fast learner, however, she didn’t do well in school and dropped out early. She has a habit of stopping someone cold when they’re speaking and use a word she isn’t familiar with – she’ll ask “what does that mean?”. I’m used to it, and I love that she does it (I wish more people would), but I’ve seen the way other people react and it’s not good.

  46. 46
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Psychotic Atheist: That’s a damn fine list. I’d also add that when you’ve got a trauma-related mental illness (like PTSD) as well as one of the regular kinds, you get dismissed as a liar about the trauma or just weak because you are, of course, crazy.

    #2 on your list reminds me of the time I was riding the bus and was treated to the students in front of me talking about how people with PTSD are dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed out among “normal people” because of course they’ll flip out and kill everybody someday.

    Also a good point, Caine @ #45. Apparently any mental illness makes you instantly stupid. Trufax.

    Depression here, as well as OCD and PTSD and some occasionally incredibly nasty gender dysphoria. Used to self-injure, don’t much wanna now. But I was more self-conscious about the scars than I was with anything else while I was shirtless at Pride this year. I really should tattoo over those. All are about as good as they’ll get in terms of recovery, though I acknowledge that they’re all best viewed as chronic conditions. I’ve been off my antidepressants, though I still have some course of maintenance treatment planned for the long-term. I might be back on the Effexor again someday, maybe not. I won’t be a failure either way.

    Oh yeah! 6. for that list: Seeking help is a sign of weakness and failure. And random assholes will apparently decide your treatment is their business.

  47. 47
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    LykeX @4:

    Didn’t watch the other video. It sounded like it would be a downer.

    You sound like a happy soul, I would suggest that you give it a try so you get a heads up for the future.

    On the day that depression descends on you from a clear blue sky you will be glad that you watched.

  48. 48
    Inaji

    Happiestsadist:

    And random assholes will apparently decide your treatment is their business.

    ^In spades, too. Everyone is an armchair psychiatrist.

  49. 49
    Inaji

    Happiestsadist:

    I was more self-conscious about the scars than I was with anything else while I was shirtless at Pride this year.

    Yeah, the self-consciousness really sticks. Most of the time, I don’t think about them anymore, but I hate, hate, hate when someone asks me about them. Took a long time to learn to look them in the eye and casually say “I carved myself up with an x-acto knife.”

  50. 50
    The Pint

    @ Moggie #6

    I’m skeptical about those trousers, though: not a good look.

    Glen’s right. It’s to give the hoop some contact with skin and increase traction. I’m friends with a bunch of hoopers and used to wonder why a lot of them tended to hoop in crop tank tops and short shorts – thought it was just a fashion thing but it turns out it’s more for practical measures since skin to hoop contact helps keep the hoop from dropping. Same thing with performers who do contact staff (rolling the staff around the body rather than holding it in the hands to spin). Hooping on cloth is more difficult because it’s harder for the hoop to “catch” (also, depends on what kind of tape is used to wrap the hoop). I suspect that by having the front of the jeans open and the back denim, she’s getting the grip from the skin in front and the denim in back helps her move the hoop from the bottom of her body to the top and vice versa because it’s “smoother” than skin.

    Of course, it could be just a look thing, but in either case, she’s got some serious skills.

  51. 51
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    That’s very similar to my response, Caine. “I took a knife to myself, repeatedly, over the course of years, usually while otherwise being a normal little student/worker bee.” Why on earth would people want to ask such a stupid question? What the fuck else would result in dozens of uniform, parallel lines running down my ribs?

    This is why I must acquire money and cover those damn things with more ink.

  52. 52
    Liesmith

    I wonder at what point that Hula Hoop prowess ceases to be a practiced skill, and starts to be a super power.

  53. 53
    Inaji

    Happiestsadist:

    Why on earth would people want to ask such a stupid question?

    I think it’s because scar stories (especially swapping scar stories) is a standard thing to do. “Ooh, what happened?” in anticipation of a good story. I consider it mostly innocent, but I wish more people would get a clue and keep their curiosity to themselves.

    I have one scar that no one outside of intimate relations people or doctors see, it’s a couple inches under my breasts, from side to side. Every damn time a doctor sees it, I end up in an argument about whether or not I had surgery there, because “that’s very straight, very fine, looks like a surgical scar”. There’s always something. And someone.

  54. 54
    Realee

    Yeah I kind of get why people ask. Scar stories aren’t always that personal and yeah they are pretty standard. I wish they wouldn’t ask though. I have good funny scar stories but that is just something I don’t want to talk about.

    I’m willing to talk about it if it’s helping a coworker understand it for counseling or a very close friend or significant other. But really, aside from them I’m prone to lie about it. They aren’t good lies. A bunch of faint parallel lines down my forearms don’t really look like they came from my evil cat (who did scratch a lot) or burns from the spotlight I ran at my high school (that did give me burns). But most people take it and leave it alone. Not much I can say about the crosshatch on my ankle though. Thankfully I’m pale and they are too now and I keep them covered 95% of the time so they’d really have to be paying attention.

  55. 55
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Hmm, you are right there, Caine. I am guilty of incredible fascination with scars of all sorts (they say the ladies like scars, but Happiestsadists love them), but I wouldn’t really ask about something unless the discussion turned to scars in general, injuries or there was a “hey, check this out!” kind of indication.

    A very good friend of mine (since passed away), had undergone multiple open-heart surgeries and was very proud of his chest scars (collarbone to solar plexus, side to side as well, and little exploratory ones). I always wish I could be that comfy with my upper half.

  56. 56
    Inaji

    Realee:

    But really, aside from them I’m prone to lie about it.

    Yeah, I lied for decades. That was actually more difficult to stop than the cutting. It can be hard to explain because I’ve found I usually have to go into much more detail about the why than I’m comfortable with. Those things simply aren’t suitable for a casual conversation or an answer to a question about scars.

    Happiestsadist:

    I am guilty of incredible fascination with scars of all sorts (they say the ladies like scars, but Happiestsadists love them)

    Who doesn’t love a good scar story? I’m guilty of liking them myself.

  57. 57
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    The Mr. has an amazing, huge set of scars on his shoulder where one of the cats got him. A snuggly-in-bed thing we do is come up with ever different, elaborate stories about how he really got it. (Wrestling wolves, the time he faced down Wolverine with only a soup spoon, etc.)

    The vainest person I’d ever met once showed me his scar. It was colossal, and the backstory was both gross and fascinating. But I don’t think the teller much liked that as he stood there looking like a model in his undies, all I paid attention to was the scar. Near his groin. He seemed put off.

  58. 58
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Put off that I wasn’t as impressed as he’d have liked with the rest, that is.

  59. 59
    Randomfactor

    My late wife had a huge (10-inch-by-2-inch) scar on her abdomen. It was the reason she was able to leave the hospital relatively upright rather than on a gurney through the basement. It always got a special kiss.

    Of course, it kinda killed her career as a nude art model.

  60. 60
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    LykeX:

    Didn’t watch the other video. It sounded like it would be a downer.

    From LykeX’s LJ profile:

    I consider myself, with risk of being considered arrogant, a philosopher. I hope to play at least a minor role in the advancement of our species towards coherence, kindness and intelligence.

    I work to advance the human qualities of curiosity, empathy and the wish to be greater than you are at present.

    I see.

  61. 61
    Inaji

    Happiestsadist:

    The Mr. has an amazing, huge set of scars on his shoulder where one of the cats got him. A snuggly-in-bed thing we do is come up with ever different, elaborate stories about how he really got it. (Wrestling wolves, the time he faced down Wolverine with only a soup spoon, etc.)

    Might as well make up stories, ’cause the whole “oh, it was a cat” always sounds like a lie. :D

    Randomfactor:

    Of course, it kinda killed her career as a nude art model.

    I assume you’re joking, but…I don’t see why it would. I have a subset of clients who know I do large size nudes and I’ve had quite a few requests for nude portraits which involved large, noticeable scars. They add interest, and like all anatomical bits, they can be a challenge to draw correctly.

  62. 62
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    Caine: Especially with those scars. He got hit hard enough by the splayed-out toes of a back foot that it looks way too huge to be a cat. At least a housecat. At least a lazy, dumb-as-a-brick cat like ours.

    I’d like to someday do nude modeling. Again, when I’m a bit more comfy with my upper half in general. (Freudian typo: I typed “in gender” initially.)

  63. 63
    Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD

    @randomfactor really? I had been under the impression that artists and art students preferred interesting bodies to classically beautiful without flaws. But I am not an artist so might have that wrong.

  64. 64
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Realee: With all respect to Caine, I agree with you. The people I have known who have self-injured were mostly not survivors of long-term abuse in childhood. Some were abused by significant others over the short or medium term; some were raped; at least one survived neither abuse nor rape but has ASD issues that cause enough stress to trigger cutting. And the most common reason I’ve heard seems to be that physical pain provides a distraction from the psychic kind.

  65. 65
    Randomfactor

    Thought someone might call me out on that. :) True, body abnormalities aren’t a disqualification, but the disability produced by the whole experience meant that she could no longer reliably work and hold poses.

    One of my most cherished possessions is a pastel of her done by one of the better students in the class she’d been posing for.

    She was also quite distressed over the scar, which was why I always made sure to give it that kiss when I was in the vicinity.

  66. 66
    Inaji

    Happiestsadist:

    I’d like to someday do nude modeling. Again, when I’m a bit more comfy with my upper half in general.

    When you’re ready, it can be a good way to deal with past body issues and expressing contentment with your body. I did quite a bit of it when I was younger. Also, you don’t have to do full nude modeling right off the bat. There’s a lot of requests for nude (actually semi-nude) modeling with drapery (no, not curtains, heh) and from the back only nude modeling.

    You also don’t have to do a class by any means. It’s easy enough to find solo sittings with an artist. However, in solo sittings, make sure you vet the artist very well and it can make you more comfortable if you have the SO or a friend along.

  67. 67
    Inaji

    Randomfactor:

    the disability produced by the whole experience meant that she could no longer reliably work and hold poses.

    Ah, I see. That makes sense.

    She was also quite distressed over the scar, which was why I always made sure to give it that kiss when I was in the vicinity.

    It’s so very easy to disturb the way we feel about our bodies, so yes, I can see where it would be very distressing. I’m glad you weren’t one of those people who avoid scars, because that sort of thing doesn’t help.

  68. 68
    syggyx

    Jesus imaginary christ, you people turn every fucking blog post into a feminist cesspool of fake issues!

    Reap what you sow PZ.

  69. 69
    Randomfactor

    Reap what you sow PZ.

    God willing.

  70. 70
    Inaji

    For those who have Firefox and would like a killfile for piles of shit like syggyx, go here.

  71. 71
    Munkhaus

    RBOQ:” PZ Myers, I hate you so much! I hope you die soon, you little piece of shit!”

    Do you remember when that kind of mindless abuse was the laughably inane recourse of the religious? On this blog, compared to the “atheist” posters, it seems pleasantly pedestrian. Charming even.

  72. 72
    burpster

    Back atcha,Kaje.

  73. 73
    ikesolem

    If you want to analyze the “mental illness” issue, it’s best to understand that as the 19th century was to infectious disease, so the 20th century is to mental illness – in other words, the “established experts” have barely a clue.

    Consider, for example, that there is no generally accepted diagnostic description or reliable test for “schizophrenia.”

    Yes, the drug companies make a lot of money selling drugs like Prozac (which depresses the action of the 5-HTP receptor), but is this kind of “treatment” really effective?

    Let’s consider a drug that has the opposite effect from that of Prozac on the 5-HTP receptor, namely lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD. First, a side point: manufacturing and selling and marketing Prozac (fluoxetine hcl) is entirely legal, doing the same with LSD will result in a long prison sentence.

    The role of LSD in stimulating the 5-HTP receptor is complicated, so just Google the following for the scholarly reports: 5htp receptor stimulation lysergic

    Clearly, such drugs hold some promise for mediated treatment of mental illness, as do a wide variety of other illegal mood-altering drugs – MDMA, THC, mescaline, psilocybin – but paranoid beliefs of the FDA and the DEA have blocked all research into such possibilities.

    Currently, over 24 million prescriptions for fluoxetine are filled every year in the U.S. – this is an addictive drug, one related to severe withdrawal symptoms, and one also associated with an increased risk of suicide.

    Nevertheless, anyone who dares to suggest that various treatments involving counseling and potent hallucinogenic (or 5-HTP-stimulating, the same basic thing, involving mediation of sensory nerve signals with the brain proper) would be a more fruitful approach – well, such suggestions would likely lead to a loss of tenure, and possible investigations by government agencies.

    Forget religion and atheism for a second – shouldn’t y’all be a bit more skeptical of corporate, for-profit claims made by drug companies and their paid-off government regulators, too? How about some skepticism for the DEA, too?

  74. 74
    Marcus Ranum

    I wonder at what point that Hula Hoop prowess ceases to be a practiced skill, and starts to be a super power.

    At the point when you can go head to head with a super-villain and win! Perhaps a copper-wrapped hula-hoop spun around a magnetic hooper would work enough to become a sidekick for Magneto or something…

  75. 75
    Grimalkin

    Thanks Syggyx, for making an example of one of the stigmas associated with mental illness- They’re all obviously fake!

    I haven’t watched JT’s video yet (I don’t want to make myself depressed before trying to sleep) but I haven’t seen anyone else mention another hindrance to mental help yet- bad psychologists.

    I’ve had depression since I was about 11, and every instance of me seeking help has ended very, very poorly.

    First was a school counselor who twisted my words to make my situation more dramatic, taking my “I sleep a lot since it’s not as stressful” and telling my mother “She said she wanted to go to sleep and never wake up!”

    Second was a mental hospital that felt like it was more of a juvenile detention center (which made me feel great- nothing like being treated like a troubled youth because I was depressed).

    Third (and last) was a psychologist who pushed drugs on me, and then pretty much turned me away when I finally took them, had a bad reaction, and wanted to stop. I’ve grown up with a wariness of psychiatric pills, since I’ve got it ingrained in my head that it’s my brain and I should be able to control how it acts, and that a pill would be a crutch. Yes, that’s a screwy way to view it, but having a psychologist refuse to offer any other kind of therapy didn’t help my perspective on medicine. It also didn’t help that he refused to believe that I could have any non-chemical reasons for being depressed- According to him, I would have to live in “war torn Darfur” to have been traumatized enough to have non-chemical depression. Nevermind the ridicule and/or hate that I get for being gay (and female), or the fact that I was sexually victimized and then convinced for years I could never talk about it by my own parents. Apparently both of those things can be fixed with SSRIs.

    TL;DR: Stigmas are one thing, piss poor medical professionals are a whole new ball game.

  76. 76
    Inaji

    It also didn’t help that he refused to believe that I could have any non-chemical reasons for being depressed- According to him, I would have to live in “war torn Darfur” to have been traumatized enough to have non-chemical depression. Nevermind the ridicule and/or hate that I get for being gay (and female), or the fact that I was sexually victimized and then convinced for years I could never talk about it by my own parents.

    Jesus fuckin’ Christ, that’s awful, Grimalkin. I’m really sorry you’ve had such bad experiences with with psychologists/psychiatrists, there are a lot of shitty ones out there. There are good ones, too, many of whom will listen and give non-drug based therapy. I understand your reluctance to be involved with one though.

    In your case, perhaps a personal recommend would be best, from someone who you know and trust. Drugs are not a panacea and they don’t help everyone.

  77. 77
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I had a qualitatively similar experience to Grimalkin’s. I saw several psychiatrists repeatedly due to being severely bullied, which naturally was MY fault, and each of them had to be dragged kicking and screaming away from the idea that I was “just a brat.” I was misdiagnosed with major depression, and then with a bipolar variant, in 7th and 9th grade respectively, medicated for years, inhibited to a fair degree by the side effects in retrospect, and finally stumbled across information on Asperger’s syndrome and realized it fit me more or less perfectly, while the description of bipolar disorder really didn’t fit me at all (my moods were never anything like cyclical – they were, however, fairly *reactive*).

    I sat down with the latest useless psychiatrist and laid out the case for why I felt that diagnosis was inappropriate and Asperger’s fit, and he proceeded to ask me hintingly/leadingly about every single symptom of bipolar and whether it fit, and seemed to be trying to hide disappointment with each “no.” The diagnosis he compromised on was PDD-NOS, essentially because my “narrow focused interests” change from time to time and I’ve learned to cope to some degree with the symptoms.

    I had been experiencing what seemed like depression symptoms due to life stress (primarily a severely dysfunctional and abusive marriage) and underdeveloped coping skills, so I kept going with the antidepressants, until said psychiatrist’s intransigence on prescription refills combined with the observation that I felt less focused and motivated on a higher dose lead me to question the reason I was originally placed on it – it turns out that my observed failure to cope with the stress of constant bullying as a child was attributed to “irritability.” *facepalm* I used my remaining pills to wean myself off and noticed a significant improvement, unsurprisingly since, much like Grimalkin, I didn’t have the biochemical imbalance the pills were supposed to treat and drugs of course have side effects.

    I am feeling like I would benefit from therapy for trauma from my childhood and marriage, and certain kinds of life skills coaching. Unfortunately the behavioral health services offered by my medical plan suck like a chest wound (the fact that it’s a Catholic organization probably plays a role in this, in addition to making me fairly uncomfortable). Unfortunately, it’s one of only two that accept my insurance and I’ve heard fairly discouraging things about the wait times for the other, but I’m strongly considering switching after this semester’s over and I have time to deal with it, since the sleep disorder I began treatment for a year ago seems to be more or less controlled.

  78. 78
    Inaji

    Azkyroth:

    I’m strongly considering switching after this semester’s over and I have time to deal with it,

    Do whatever you have to do, your health is important. Again, the laughable ‘health care’ we have in the U.S. is a fucking travesty. It’s not easy to find a good therapist and our so-called health care makes it damn near impossible for people to shop around enough to find a therapist that is both good and a good fit for you.

    A lot of health care plans don’t even include mental health or are so limited when it comes to mental health they are basically useless.

    There is so much bias in the U.S. when it comes to mental illness, it’s disgusting. The attitude of most still revolves around the “hey, get over it, it’s not like you have it that bad” sort of crap, the implication being that if you really tried, you would get over it and no longer have any problems.

  79. 79
    Brian

    so if you need a pick-me-up after JT’s troubles, here’s Hula Hoop Chick.

    Wow. Jen McCreight’s changed a lot of things since the last time I saw her talk.

  80. 80
    GMacs

    Thank you, JT.

    I can attest that, while I had some pastors growing up that were decent people, methylphenidate, SSRIs, my shrink, and very close friends of mine have helped me more than an intangible god ever could. Letting go of faith wasn’t a cure-all, but it was a great burden to lift, and it certainly helped.

    Shit, the starving reminds me of bad times. If anyone out there is thinking about going to a psychiatrist, but is afraid of the stigmatization, do it. Do it as soon as possible.

    Also, if you are a supportive friend of someone with mental illness (protecting the person from his or her own bullshit, checking discretely and not condescendingly for burn/razor marks, etc.) you are a lifesaver. No preacher, bishop or spiritual healer will ever compare.

  81. 81
    GMacs

    Wait, I hadn’t read the comments above about shitty shrinks.

    My shrink is cool, chuckles when I diss religion, and seems to have the same dark sense of humor I do. There are, however, Marcus Bachmann types, and school counselor types (I had a counselor in middle school who said “mmmkay” a lot, thus reminding me of Mr. Mackey). So if you find a good shrink, stick with him or her.

  82. 82
    LykeX

    To everybody:

    I already suffer from recurring depressive states that cripple my ability to deal with anything at all and I get quite enough reality in my daily life.
    Last night I didn’t feel like crap and I didn’t want to feel like crap, so I watched the happy, shiny video and not the serious one.

    Also, shove it.

  83. 83
    LykeX

    OK, allow me to make that slightly less confrontational.

    I don’t see that I have a moral obligation to make myself feel like shit or that anyone here has a right to demand that I make myself feel like shit.

    I made a judgment call and decided not to watch the video as it was likely to make me feel bad. I prioritized my emotional health. I don’t see how you can fault me for that.

    If you watched the video and found it helpful or interesting then good for you. I may watch it at some point, but it won’t be right now. I’m not making any judgment whatsoever about whether anyone else should or shouldn’t watch the video.

    Also, I withdraw the “shove it” comment. That was unproductive, but the assumptions made kinda pushed a button. My bad.

  84. 84
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    Lyke: It was somewhat ambiguously communicated and the horde are well known for shooting from the hip. I think you’ll find that most people here are willing to write it off as a “pattern-matching error” and move on as long as you don’t become defensive at length, though.

    Otherwise, understandable and best wishes.

  85. 85
    Inaji

    LykeX:

    I made a judgment call and decided not to watch the video as it was likely to make me feel bad. I prioritized my emotional health. I don’t see how you can fault me for that.

    That’s fine and I didn’t. I didn’t address you at all and neither did most of the other commenters. Your “it sounded like it would be a downer” came across as flip and uncaring, which is why some people jumped.

    I’m sorry you’re dealing with depression and I fully understand why you wouldn’t want to watch the video.

  86. 86
    John Morales

    Powerful stuff.

    LykeX, you know you have the option of just watching a bit of it — maybe just the intro — then you can always stop, and tell yourself you were right after all, it’s making you feel bad.

  87. 87
    Eurasian magpie

    It is heartbreaking that one of the world’s wealthiest countries has such a broken health care system.

    There is this person I know. Xe is in the USA with a scholarship from hir country of origin. Xe has no health insurance. And xe is in the middle of a paranoid psychosis. What are hir chances to recieve any real help? I have the impression that the ER’s have the obligation to treat everybody who shows up there. Is this correct? If xe would present hirself in the ER and flat out state that xe is in pain from implants that a criminal organization has placed in hir body (for that is the contents of hir delusion) could that be a starting point for some kind of long-term psychiatric treatment? Or would xe be given a package of antipsychotics and turned away?

  88. 88
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    LykeX @82

    I already suffer from recurring depressive states that cripple my ability to deal with anything at all and I get quite enough reality in my daily life.
    Last night I didn’t feel like crap and I didn’t want to feel like crap, so I watched the happy, shiny video and not the serious one.

    I am afraid ‘It sounded like a downer’ did come across as flippant and I am sorry that you have recurring depressive states.

    The video, while intense, is certainly more of an upper than a downer and I am glad to have watched it (though my own depressive state has been history for 10 months and 15 days, thank you SSRIs.)

    Good luck for the future.

  89. 89
    Pteryxx

    Whoa. I didn’t know about this thread until JT cited it. He’s just put up an excellent article:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd/2011/11/28/mental-health-start-up/

  90. 90
    BinJabreel

    @Tears of the Mushroom, #87

    Depends on the hospital, and the state you’re in. Since our healthcare system is insanely cost-obsessed, odds are good they’d get sent to someone who would, indeed, just give them some antipsychotics and send them off. If they were concerned xe was an immediate threat to hirself or others, they could try and arrange for an involuntary 72 hour commitment, which (hopefully) would include meeting some councilors and having some ongoing therapy arrangements offered.

    But none of this all that likely. Odds are much better xe’d get turned away with some scrips. There’s, sadly, surprisingly little our mental health system can do for someone who doesn’t have insurance and hasn’t committed a crime. And there’s even less they can do if the person in question refuses to accept the help.

    All that said, however, I still think it’s worth trying. I’d recommend finding a well-funded hospital with a less-crowded ER on one of the nicer sides of town and being there, like, early Tuesday morning.

  91. 91
    Realee

    I’m sorry to hear all the terrible experiences people had in the mental health care system. I’ve had a few too when dealing with my depression, social anxiety, anorexia, and self injury. (One suggested PTSD from an emotionally abusive relationship… I’m not sure if I agree that my symptoms match but I can see what she’s referring to.)

    The high school counselor that made fun of my cutting “If you get uncomfortable talking to my boss maybe you can just go home and slash your arms open. Ha ha ha!” and sat too close on the couch for my comfort.

    The doctor that just threw pills at me and sent me on my way. (Pills that really worked and really helped but that isn’t the way to do it regardless. He didn’t check in to see how they were working or notice when I stopped refilling either.)

    I did find a psychiatrist that did a pretty okay job. At least she was interested in continuing talk therapy with me while I took medication she prescribed. (Medication and therapy have been found more effective than either alone for treating depression and anxiety.) It’s something that can be rare in psychiatrists because of how insurance companies pay out.

    The system is so overwhelmed, underfunded, and broken. It’s one of the reasons I entered this field rather than continuing on the research path I was on. But, there are lots good ones out there. I hope to be one of them. It’s a process to find a right place. Usually the first consultation with a therapist is free and it gives both you and the therapist to feel out if you’re a good fit for one another. If you’re in school look to see what resources your school has for counseling. (Often it’s free or very low cost.) Asking your primary care physician for suggestions as well as friends can be helpful. Even saying to a therapist, “I don’t feel like this is a good fit because x,y, or z. Do you know anyone that might be a better fit?” It sounds awful but really if they’re any good at all they should be able to accept that and help you find what you need.

  92. 92
    ladyh42

    Thank you J.T. You put into words what I could not about how these illnesses can affect people. Excepting the anorexia you’ve described almost perfectly how life is for me with clinical depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The worst is the block that you get when you know you should do something and you can’t make yourself do it, and no amount of reason can get you past it. I have been trying for the last 5 years to find a medication that helps me without either causing me pain or making me sleep/not sleep too much. It hasn’t been easy, especially when the side effects cause more problems than the original disease (Lamotrigine for instance gave me extreme fear of driving/riding in cars, which was absolutely fucked up) The current one I’m on has blissfully done away with that particular fear, but leaves me feeling dozy and uninterested in food of any kind (which sucks because I *really* like food) It’s funny because it was supposed to make me hyper :P I’m sure something down the line will work, tho my doc is running out of options and said that electro-shock therapy might be the way to go. I’m skeptical about that. Anyway, tl:dr I’m just coming out so to speak. I am sick, but I will manage it someday. Oh, and everyone who has ever told me to just get over it can bite me!

  93. 93
    LykeX

    Your “it sounded like it would be a downer” came across as flip and uncaring, which is why some people jumped.

    In retrospect, I can see how it would come off as that. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so brief.

    Thanks for the well wishes, everyone.

  94. 94
    leighshryock

    This is kind of close to the chest for me. My mother had serious mental health issues when I was going up, including serious mental breakdowns which caused her to heap up some serious emotional abuse on us kids.

    She’s diagnosed with bipolar, but… she doesn’t really have the ups associated with it? She’s relatively normal and well adjusted, then becomes either severely depressed or, about as often, rather cruel, petty and vindictive.

    Unfortunately, the healthcare system has, by and large failed her. She used to go to counceling, and she is on medicine, but she gets paranoid about the medicine she takes and will only take things she’s been on for a while (which help a bit, but, it’s not a huge help).

    It can be painful to be around her, when she’s in her pettier moods. And, honestly, the instinct is to leave, especially if she’s heaping abuse on me or someone I know.

  95. 95
    Inaji

    leighshryock:

    It can be painful to be around her, when she’s in her pettier moods. And, honestly, the instinct is to leave, especially if she’s heaping abuse on me or someone I know.

    It’s a difficult situation, however, you need to have a care for your own mental health. Always staying and taking abuse is not good for you.

  96. 96
    leighshryock

    I know. I do bail often enough when she’s being abusive to anyone or if she’s talking bad about anyone I know.

    I… know I probably shouldn’t, but, it hurts to deal with even the depressive episodes, and I do leave during those times as well (or avoid her, if I know she’s in such a mood).

    I do call and check up on her, or make sure someone else is, as she has been suicidal or self-harming in the past, like many dealing with clinical depression have been.

    The more I think about it, the more annoyed I am by the state of the healthcare system in this country. So many people get left by the wayside by it. In her case, she is on disability, and thus is eligible for medicare (or is it medicaid?), but, by and large, she isn’t given very good medical care – the bare minimum to collect office visits until that’s maxed out and then they suddenly lose interest in her.

  97. 97
    Slugsie

    That is some impressive hula hooping skills. But I feel someone should take pity on the poor lass and buy her a new pair of jeans. The ones she was wearing are falling apart.

  1. 98
    kids therapeutic stress ball

    kids therapeutic stress ball…

    [...]There is no one true Skepticon | Pharyngula[...]…

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