Something's Changed

Thoughts on Michael Bywater's Big Babies or Why Can't We Just Grow Up ... Originally prepared for a talk and discussion at the South Place Ethical Society Book Club. ... Why do people seem to behave differently these days? Why do young girls appear to be more interested in sex? Why do young boys appear to be more restless and inattentive? Why do so many adults comport themselves like overgrown children, always eager to indulge in new high-tech toys or score with members of the opposite or indeed of...

May the Thought Police be with you!

Over the last week the mainstream media in the UK have focused on two moral issues. The first concerned the televised racial slurs of a working class Londoner raised in a Bermondsey council estate who made her name on Channel Four's Big Brother against a multi-millionaire Bollywood diva. The second drew our attention to the unwillingness of the Catholic and other religious adoption agencies to place children with same sex couples. Campaigns against discrimination on grounds of race or sexual orientation...

Conspiracy Theory Slur

act of working in secret to obtain some goal, usually understood with negative connotations. ... Conspiracy (crime) and conspiracy (civil), an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future ... Conspiracy (political), a plot to overthrow a government or other powers ... Conspiracy theory, attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance ... Many defenders of orthodoxy can simply shrug off all challenges ...

The Awareness Raising Scam

On the surface there seems nothing wrong with bringing people's attention to the plight of other human beings. As a concept awareness raising began life in political activism, but was soon embraced by the advertising industry. It does not take a huge leap of faith to conclude that National Smile Week , as delightful and charming as we may find smiles, was sponsored by the British Dental Association and not by an independent group of well-intentioned philanthropists. When the instigators of various...

The Misery Industry

In the run-up to New labour's historic 1997 electoral victory, thespian extraordinaire Tony Blair launched his rallying soundbite " education, education, education ". Any brief exposure to modern teaching techniques as they have continued to evolve since would reveal the necessity to revise that slogan to " edutainment, edutainment, edutainment " . ... Outside the bustling edutainment sector with semi-privatised unis offering students free I-pods and advertising the prospects of vibrant night life and...

Shameless Celebrity Promotion of Personality Disorders

Letter to the Independent (on Sunday) ... Judging from the Independent on Sunday's feature on Stephen Fry's high-profile outing as a bipolar-defined person, we can look forward to a new season of personality disorder awareness raising. If we believe the hype, until the mid 1990s human beings labelled with the new generation of behavioural disorders lived in the dark ages condemned to a life deprived of media-filtered awareness of their plight, a burgeoning support and counselling sector and a new range...

You're just an Individual

Whether you read psychiatric literature, social work reports or listen to the speeches of leading politicians, you'll find ordinary citizens increasingly referred to not as women, men, people, human beings or citizens but as individuals. Whether you lead an atypical lifestyle, are considered to suffer from a disorder or disease, are addicted to an obsessive behaviour or harbour subversive opinions, someone somewhere will probably refer to you as an individual with some label or other. A quick Web search...

A Curious Exchange on Gambling

I belong to the school of thought that views happiness as a state of emotional equilibrium in which one's desires and material expectations are socially and environmentally sustainable. Should one feel unable to attain the required dose of desires in a highly competitive setting, this can indeed lead to much misery. The broad theme I'd like to develop is that the mass entertainment industry would be more aptly named the misery industry. One does not need access to official statistics to claim that the...

Who Needs Psychiatry?

Most human beings have undergone moments of emotional disturbance and have at times engaged in unwise and irrational behaviour due to inexperience, extreme stress or intoxication. Our unconscious may have created sensory illusions, echoes of past ordeals. Many of us have felt the need to withdraw, if only temporarily, in a world of our own. A sense of insecurity, guilt or just personal fascination can lead us to obsess with actions, issues or objects. We may even sink into a mire of introspective...

Today's Hate Hour

" Today we're dedicating our hate hour to an evil man, suffering from a chronic psychopathic sexual disorder. He deserves only contempt and should bury himself under the nearest rock. This man was caught viewing paedophiliac images on the Internet. We don't have any evidence linking him to real-life sex crimes, but are in no doubt that anyone casting their malevolent eyes on images deemed paedophiliac will sooner or later commit such a crime. It is imperative that we apply the preventive principle to avert ...

The Arbitrary Extension of the Autistic Spectrum

Over the last twenty years we have witnessed a semantic shift in the concepts of autism and the wider autistic spectrum. The former may assume three broad definitions: ... A mental condition devoid of a theory of mind with which to relate to other human beings. In this sense we all start life in an autistic state and gradually develop progressively more advanced theories of mind. Early attachment with one's primary care-giver and bonding with real-world friends clearly play a crucial role. However, ...

We Care about those who disagree

Samantha Stasy is a loyal Labour MP who genuinely cares about the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of her constituents. Every week she holds a surgery providing local electors with a forum in which to air their grievances. " I believe it is essential to stay in touch with our electors, listen carefully and help them overcome their problems or refer them to professionals who can ." ... Samantha: " Hello, Mrs Contrary, I've read your e-mail, taken on board all your comments and fully sympathise...

Is AS really on the Autistic Spectrum or are we just redefining Autism?

The overall message we get from the growing AS/Autism support industry is that we are part of the autistic spectrum and we have a psychiatric disorder, even if the language used by professionals when addressing us is much more diplomatic. I agree we have problems with socialisation and manifest behavioural traits that come under the broad umbrella now labelled as Asperger's. ... I take issue with this arbitrary extension of the so-called autistic spectrum to include people with a high verbal...

AS vs Autism Neuroimaging

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004 Mar;61(3):291-8.  Investigation of neuroanatomical differences between autism and Asperger syndrome. ... Lotspeich LJ, Kwon H, Schumann CM, Fryer SL, Goodlin-Jones BL, Buonocore MH, Lammers CR, Amaral DG, Reiss AL. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305, USA. ... ... Linda.Lotspeich@stanford.edu CONCLUSIONS: Lack of replication between...

Is Asperger's a Learning Disability?

Currently many services for both children and adults diagnosed with the Asperger's Difference fall under the umbrella of learning disabilities. Indeed some professionals seem eager to broaden the definition of learning disabilities to encompass a whole host of individuals whose learning patterns may diverge somewhat from the norm. To confuse matters more the term is often interchanged freely with learning difficulties. Why should we take offence at these sweeping generalisations? After all in the spirit of ...

Is it Time to Rethink Media Effects?

It has become increasingly common in some academic circles to write off public controversies about children"s media as moral panics. This paper sets out to challenge the implied claim made in this argument that media do not have psychological and cultural impacts on children. This position confuses public concerns with public safety and children"s well being with right wing moralizing about children"s taste. It also reduces the scientific study of the relationship between violent entertainment and...

Prescience from January 2002: The Myth of Autism

15/02/2002

In Leo Kanner's now classic 1943 paper he outlined the behavior pattern, present from early in life, which he named 'early infantile autism'. Prior to this, there were, in the literature, occasional accounts of individual children whose behavior fitted the picture Kanner later described. Kanner described only the autistic children referred to his clinic and, later on, those attending a particular special school (Kanner,1973). He made no estimates of the numbers in the general population, but thought that his syndrome was rare.

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