Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur


A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Hemant Mehta (The Friendly Atheist) goes off the rails on the #Manoora case

Posted 23-Dec-2014 at 06:25 PM (18:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Dec-2014 at 07:49 PM (19:49) by Gurdur

There was a very distressing incident a day or so ago. An Australian mother, Raina Thaiday, is accused of having "stabbed seven of her own nine children, and a niece. The victims ranged in age from two to fourteen". This happened within the Torres Strait Islander community in Manoora, Queensland, Australia. The mother is charged with having murdered "three of her daughters, aged 2, 11 and 12, four of her sons, aged 5, 6, 8 and 9, and her 14-year-old niece".

Psychosis happens. Look...
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Tomorrow is World Suicide-Prevention Day

Posted 09-Sep-2013 at 05:52 PM (17:52) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 09-Sep-2013 at 06:12 PM (18:12) by Gurdur

... and I helped!

I was just out of hospital by one day, and I was just looking at my tweets stream last Wednesday when a tweet came up from Suicide Prevention ‏@GrassrootsSP: "#Help! We're looking for a donation of 10 white #t-shirts for World Suicide Prevention Day activities at the weekend. Can anyone help? RT pl"

Well, that sounded very nicely easy in several ways. While my cash is very limited, not being...
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Rating: 10 votes, 5.00 average.

Can a demon cause cancer of the pancreas?

Posted 14-Aug-2013 at 09:57 PM (21:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 15-Aug-2013 at 02:57 PM (14:57) by Gurdur

Many years ago, I knew of an ashram - a Hindu religious community open to most - where the members would undergo a ritual when confronting their own non-optimal thoughts or behaviour. They would take one of their shoes and stamp it repeatedly on the ground to rid themselves of the bad thought or habit. The theory was that the bad thoughts or habitual actions were caused by bhutis (singular bhuti; see the note below the post, please), and that the ritual stamping would drive out the demon. Thereby...
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Giles Fraser and mental health: When the Church fails at being a church, when the spiritual let down spirituality

Posted 10-Aug-2013 at 04:27 PM (16:27) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Aug-2013 at 04:47 PM (16:47) by Gurdur

Giles Fraser (@Giles_Fraser) has a piece up in the Guardian today on mental health, Big Pharma and so on; here it is. Three rebuttals of his piece have already been posted by others: @chloemiriam has made very good points here, @the_dirty_ho makes good points here, and @Gerrarrdus under a pseudonym has posted more points here. What are the problems with Giles Fraser's piece? For one thing, it fails at the transcendent. He takes the fact that there is over-prescription of some psycho-active medications,...
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Thomas Szasz has died; one part of anti-psychiatry history

Posted 12-Sep-2012 at 05:29 PM (17:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 12-Sep-2012 at 07:13 PM (19:13) by Gurdur

Thomas Stephen Szasz is reported as having died on Saturday, September 8, 2012, at the age of 92. An obituary of him has been posted on the website Tributes. He was a major figure in criticism of how society handled mental health and illness issues; his criticism focused mainly on psychiatry, the branch of medicine dealing with difficult problems of mental illnesses (the easy problems of illnesses affecting the mind, once solved, get shunted off into other branches of medicine).

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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

No, immunology should get the same scrutiny as psychiatry. And vice versa.

Posted 19-Aug-2012 at 06:03 PM (18:03) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 19-Aug-2012 at 06:31 PM (18:31) by Gurdur

Play Sherlock Holmes M.D. for a few minutes. You're a busy healthcare person, and somebody turns up acting weirdly and confused, and complaining of hearing voices. She shows real problems, and cannot look after herself. What do you reckon is the problem with the person? So far it sounds like schizophrenia, no? Hold on to that, we will deal with the case throughout this post. Now, separately, one response to my last blog post "How not to criticize psychiatry, part 1" was a bit of a mix; it covered...
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Malcolm Bowden gets his jollies from others' sufferings, claiming mental illnesses are only a sin of pride

Posted 26-Apr-2012 at 01:29 PM (13:29) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 26-Apr-2012 at 01:52 PM (13:52) by Gurdur

Malcolm Bowden is a man who does not seem to have any medical training at all. That doesn't stop him dictating on medical issues; like someone with no experience nor knowledge telling you what to do with your appendix, you would be very well advised to be very wary of him. Bowden, a self-declared Evangelical Christian, has a strange website up advertising many of his off-the-wall opinions, ranging from on geocentricity of all things, to Young Earth Creationism, to stellar parallax and redshift variations,...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Shades Of Gray: treatment of mentally ill in the US armed forces during WW2 period

Posted 19-Jul-2011 at 01:48 PM (13:48) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

As regular readers of my blog will know, I often blog on various mental health issues, mainly for three reasons:
  • Care of the mentally ill: I've worked in that large field, and I've had several friends who had what is so conflationarywise called mental illness.
  • The intersection between evolved free will and automatism forced by mental illness: this is of great importance and interest to all philosophy of mind.
  • Self-care for activisits: how to stop yourself getting
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Alzheimer's Disease - just what is it? The dangers of over-medicalization and over-diagnosis

Posted 10-Aug-2010 at 04:19 PM (16:19) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-Aug-2010 at 04:26 PM (16:26) by Gurdur

Continuing on the subject of Alzheimer's from my last blog post: The whole model of Alzheimer's as a separate disease entity is under debate; some go so far to deny it exists at all, e.g. Peter Whitehouse and Daniel George in their book The Myth of Alzheimer’s (USA edition, British edition). Denying it exists at all seems to me to be taking things a fair bit too far, though it's undeniable...
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Rating: 8 votes, 5.00 average.

Mistaking the means for the cause; can you prove love?

Posted 06-Aug-2010 at 02:16 PM (14:16) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 13-Feb-2015 at 01:41 AM (01:41) by Gurdur

If I bopped you over the head with a rolled-up newspaper, and you asked me, "Why the hell did you whack me over the head?", and I replied to you, "Well, you see, my motor neurons sent a message to my arm muscles, and here's a handy diagram of how the arm and shoulder muscles work, and here's a nice little peice all about neurons and how they work", would you be happy or satisfied? Would you think your question has been answered?

No, of course not.

If you asked me, "Why...
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Part 2 of the Inception review: love, betrayal, possessiveness, and madness

Posted 06-Aug-2010 at 01:20 AM (01:20) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Aug-2010 at 10:57 AM (10:57) by Gurdur

This is part 2 of my blog posts on the film Inception; please see Part 1 here, and Part 3 here. If you don't know the plot of the movie, please see my previous blog post on that. Warning: what I write throughout the rest of this blog entry contains a fair few spoilers. I have kept the explanations to a minimum, but if you hate spoilers, stop reading this and go see the movie first, it's great.

For myself, there is one particular scene which made the story clear to me, the scene where...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

Part 3 of the Inception review: how do we know things? How do we know what is real, what is a dream, and what is madness? Epistemology and sanity

Posted 06-Aug-2010 at 01:11 AM (01:11) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Aug-2010 at 09:46 AM (09:46) by Gurdur

This is part 3 of my blog posts on the film Inception; please see Part 1 here, and Part 2 here. Now we get to the question, how do we know when it's a dream and when it's reality? The makers of Inception have actually taken great care to make it difficult, by allowing you to think you have it straight, but leaving you with a nagging sense of doubt that you may have it wrong.

That gets onto how we know things, epistemology, the philosophy of knowledge, and it's acute in Inception,...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Some of my best friends are psychotics, but they're not nutters like Raoul Moat

Posted 30-Jul-2010 at 04:21 PM (16:21) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 30-Jul-2010 at 04:58 PM (16:58) by Gurdur

Some of my best friends suffer from mental illnesses through no fault of their own, and if they have bad luck or go without regular medication, they can become psychotic. What does psychotic actually mean? It means having your thinking break down to the point where you start behaving like a poorly scripted or random and often self-destructive robot instead of like a responsive, learning human being. Sufferers lose touch with reality in fairly bad ways, and can feel very anxious or hostile as a result....
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Sexual sadism is a mitigating factor? No, it bloody well isn't.

Posted 22-Jul-2010 at 11:46 AM (11:46) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

While this news is a couple of months old, it bears repeating, since the topic of psychopaths, and whether or not psychopaths suffer from psychological compulsion, is going to come up a fair few times on my blog. President Obama a while back nominated Robert N. Chatigny for serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. This, while obviously nowhere near at the level of importance of a SCOTUS nomination, proved to be a mistake; some staffer or other hadn't bothered checking Chatigny's...
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Rating: 10 votes, 5.00 average.

The new Twinkie defence: abuse and misuse of fMRI's and science, and using the label psychopath as an excuse

Posted 06-Jul-2010 at 04:27 PM (16:27) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 06-Aug-2010 at 02:09 PM (14:09) by Gurdur

In 1978, Wikipedia link for Dan White Dan White murdered by shooting George Moscone, the then mayor of San Francisco, and Harvey Milk. At his trial, psychiatrist Martin Blinder testified that in his opinion Dan White was of Wikipedia link for diminished capacity diminished capacity owing to depression, or in other words Dan White's mental functions were allegedly "diminished" or impaired. Blinder argued that Dan White's change of diet to snack foods and drinks high in sugar was allegedly evidence of White's depression, and thus alleged evidence of his alleged diminished...
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Mental illness: what the heck is it?

Posted 20-Jun-2010 at 04:21 AM (04:21) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-Jun-2010 at 09:16 AM (09:16) by Gurdur

As part of an ongoing series of blog posts I am making on looking at issues such as nature versus nurture, it's necessary to look at what mental illness is or what is meant by it. Some of course deny any such thing at all; they go around the net denying there even could be any such thing as mental illness. Because of the sheer prejudice shown towards psychiatry by Scientology, you get a fair few Scientologists flaming any thread to do with psychiatry and mental illnesses on boards. But you also...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

The too-small world of atheists and resulting risk of self-made problems

Posted 02-Feb-2010 at 06:28 PM (18:28) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 31-Jul-2011 at 06:21 PM (18:21) by Gurdur

As if atheists didn't have enough problems already, some atheists really like creating problems for the rest. It is just a fact that until atheists as a movement, or part of the overall movement, start overcoming how those few cause them problems, then atheism will remain often ineffectual and prone to being viewed with much negative prejudice by the general population in places like the USA. So it's pretty necessary for us atheists and secular humanists to confront the issue. As to how and why...
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