What is Psychiatry?

In its ongoing attempts to define, understand, and categorize disorders, and determine the best treatments, the medical specialty of psychiatry is always up against the protean complexity of the human brain. Both biological factors and environmental factors contribute to symptoms of distress, and the role each plays varies from person to person. Both psychotherapy and drugs are effective for most psychiatric disorders, and often a combination of the two works best, although the effects kick in on different timetables.

Recent Posts on Psychiatry

The Mysteries of Madness

In Madness and Civilization, Andrew Scull reviews how the struggle between those who understand madness as a supernatural phenomenon, those who viewed it as a problem originating in the biochemistry of the body and the brain, and those who advanced social and psychological explanations of the afflictions has persisted over two millennia in countries throughout the world.

Do Prescription Sleep Medications Cause Sleepwalking?

Although many people think that sedative-hypnotic sleep aids often cause sleepwalking, this adverse effect is rare.

How to Fix Broken Sleep

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on June 01, 2015 in Think, Act, Be
What works for insomnia might surprise you--and your doctor.

Happiness versus Success

Over the decades - as both a psychiatrist practicing in Silicon Valley and a civilian living here locally - I have witnessed so much success and yet so little happiness. In our valley of material riches and natural beauty, the two are regrettably too often in opposition.

Divorce Cases Involving Children with Autism

Considering the high rates of autism diagnosis, how can it be that the family court system - there to serve the ‘best interests of the child’ - has so little knowledge about the affects of autism on children? How can family court counselors and custody evaluators make assessments in divorce cases that include children with autism if they are not knowledgeable about ASD?

Your Brain on Chocolate

Chocolate, a fermented extract of the seed pods of the Theobroma cacao plant, is one of the world’s most popular foods. Given the active caffeine, theobromides, and rich number of flavanols in chocolate, it’s no surprise that cocoa has been used as a medicine for at least 3000 years. Could it have beneficial effects on the brain?

Diametric Mentalizing Imaged in Autistic & Psychotic Brains

As predicted by the diametric model, brain scanning reveals hyper-active mentalism in schizophrenics but the opposite in autistics.

A Beautiful Mind: What Did John Nash Really Have?

Nash was certainly delusional and evidently hallucinated as well. He filled the blackboards of Fine Hall at Princeton with indecipherable scribblings, and wandered about the campus in an apparent daze. He became known as “The Phantom of Fine Hall.”

What Happens When a Psychopath Falls in Love

The typical profile of a psychopath is of someone who is incapable of love. However, should people high in psychopathy manage to form intimate bonds, here's what can await them and their partners.

Psychiatry's Six Happiness/HealthTraits with 12 Tips

Six personal qualities are considered "mature defenses" and can contribute to a happier and healthier life. This blog outlines these traits and some suggestions for how to develop them.

Lobotomy Cuts Both Ways (Diametrically Speaking)!

A patient cured of epilepsy by brain surgery acquired hyper-mentalistic symptoms as implied by the diametric model and predicted by the imprinted brain theory.

The Surprising News about Children's Mental Health

How mentally healthy are today’s children and teens? A comprehensive new survey shows that the current generation of young people are in better shape than we’ve realized. However, trends in medication use continue to draw concern by mental health experts.

TV Binge Watching Disorder

Hi, I'm Larry, and I Binge Watch TV

Is the DSM Turning into a Train Wreck?

Psychiatry is rapidly losing faith in the DSM. The National Institute for Mental Health has already rejected it as a symptom guide for research. The Europeans are openly skeptical. Yet the trainee psychiatrists are still obliged to memorize it and pretend that the DSM illnesses (“bipolar disorder,” “major depression,” and “social anxiety disorder”) are real.

#rednoseday: Mental Health Is Social Equity!

By Ravi Chandra M.D. on May 20, 2015 in The Pacific Heart
Thursday, May 21 is the first Red Nose Day in the U.S. Here are some thoughts on what emotional problems are worsened with socio-economic inequity and why.

Drugging Traumatized Kids: Lessons for Mental Health Care

By Claudia M Gold M.D. on May 19, 2015 in Child in Mind
Whether a child has experienced major trauma, or more ubiquitous adverse childhood experiences such as parental mental illness, domestic violence, or divorce, protecting space and time to listen to the story in the setting of trusting relationships is central to growth and healing

How Do You Think About Emotional Distress? Take the Survey!

What would happen if we could talk to a professional about the pain we're feeling without being boxed into the illness frame? Or choosing a diagnosis? What would we say? What would we learn? Participate in this national survey and be part of the discovery.

Can We Really Die of a Broken Heart?

Medical research shows that poets and songwriters are right--we can indeed die of a broken heart.

ADHD

Questions about ADHD for parents to ask psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists

Multiple Vitamins for Anxiety

Can a simple multiple vitamin be helpful to lighten the mood and calm anxiety?

A Contrast to Psychiatry: The ‘Hearing Voices’ Movement

Those opposed to classical psychiatric models claim that hearing voices may be a normal part of the human experience and that the diagnosis of schizophrenia may be unfounded.

When Someone You Love Has Mental Illness

In honor of Mental Health Month, we explore how to advocate for your loved one with mental illness.

Depression, Posture and the Role of Exercise

Can we alleviate depression through exercise and changes in posture and deportment?

Diametric Differences in Seeing the Other’s Point of View

Both tendencies to autism and proneness to psychosis induce perspective-taking errors, but their interaction reduces these errors: a finding only explicable by the diametric model.

Can Psychological Screening Prevent Pilot Suicide?

For every intentional crash there are hundreds of unintentional crashes. The money spent on a wild goose chase trying to keep a suicidal pilot from intentionally crashing would be better spent on training non-suicidal pilots to prevent unintentional (pilot error) crashes.

April (and May, and Probably June) Is the Cruelest Month

By Steven Schlozman M.D. on May 11, 2015 in Grand Rounds
Depression and even suicidal behavior increase in spring. But why?

Ending Stigma on the TEDx Stage

Stigma perpetuates mental illness. A passionately delivered TEDx talk informs viewers about 3 ways they can spread hope and create bright futures!

What is Love?

For Mother’s Day this blog will not address the pressing issues of psychiatry today. Suffice it to say that the harm done by the twin traumas of deprivation and abuse generate all the psychiatric struggles we are all subject to. This is the other side of the story - my appreciation for what I have learned from my wife.

Helping People Find Their Way

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on May 09, 2015 in In Control
The therapist’s job in MOL is to keep clients’ attention on the problem until they find their way home.

The Debate Over “Excited Delirium” Heats Up

To be clear, we have known since the early 19th century that there is a form of manic excitement, or “manic delirium,” that may end fatally.