Mental illness

by July

This recent comment seemed to set off a spirited discussion on the treatment of mental illness:

I believe we have redefined normal life suffering as pathological.

I thought of this when I read about Dr. Paul McHugh, a “professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a tenacious skeptic of the crazes that periodically overtake his specialty”.

First, let’s be clear that he believes “mental illnesses are real things . . . that need to be studied, and can be treated”.  On the other hand, he believes some illnesses are “iatrogenic—a Greek word meaning “brought on by the healer”—implanted by the therapeutic process that purports to discover them”

Dr. McHugh gives some examples of iatrogenesis:  some cases of recovered memory, transgender/sex reassignment surgeries, and PTSD.

Dr. McHugh argues that the treatment of returning soldiers for the liberally applied PTSD diagnosis is another example of iatrogenesis. Such diagnoses are far rarer among Israel Defense Forces veterans, who experience plenty of trauma. Israelis “know that you can get a terrible psychological reaction out of a traumatic battle. And they do take the soldiers out, and they tell them the following: ‘This is perfectly normal; you need to be out of battle for a while. Don’t think that this is a disease that’s going to hurt you, this is like grief. You’re going to get over it, it’s normal. And within a few weeks, after a little rest, we’re going to put you back with your comrades and you’re going to go back to work.’ And they all do.”

By contrast, American psychiatrists say: “ ‘You’ve had a permanent wound. You’re going to be on disability forever. And this country has mistreated you by putting you in a false war.’ They make chronic invalids of them. That’s the difference.”

Standing Against Psychiatry’s Crazes – WSJ

What are your thoughts?

Some related links if you feel like reading some more:

The Real Problems With Psychiatry
A psychotherapist contends that the DSM, psychiatry’s “bible” that defines all mental illness, is not scientific but a product of unscrupulous politics and bureaucracy.

Psychiatry’s Incurable Hubris
The biology of mental illness is still a mystery, but practitioners don’t want to admit it.

In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association voted to declare that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness and thus should be removed from the DSM, psychiatry’s “bible” of illnesses.

The obvious question—how scientific is a discipline that settles so momentous a problem at the ballot box?—was raised by the usual critics.


Tuesday open thread

We have an open thread all day.

Anyone else interested in back pain relief?

A comprehensive guide to the new science of treating lower back pain
A review of 80-plus studies upends the conventional wisdom.

You can try to find a “back whisperer”.

These “back whisperers” come from many different backgrounds: doctors of physical therapy with an orthopedic clinical specialist certification, personal trainers with a degree in exercise science, physical therapists.

Or maybe just pop an Aleve as needed.

Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  College housing culture clash  (Rocky Mountain Stepmom)
Thursday  —  Open thread
Friday  —  Totebag Fantasy Vacation  (Honolulu Mother)
Sunday —  Politics open thread

How many towels?

by July

Everyone Seems to Be Divided on How Many Towels to Own—Here’s What We Think
Why is this so difficult?

Twitter user Advil launched the tweet that started Towelgate this weekend, and has garnered almost 2,500 replies. He believes that 10 is the perfect number of towels for a couple to own—but his girlfriend, not so much.

Soon enough, the internet’s replies came pouring in, with everyone wanting to put their two cents in on the Great Towel Debate. Some said 10 was just perfect, others replied that you definitely need more than 12, and some were more stumped than ever before….

While it definitely depends on how many people are living in the household, how many guests you typically have visit you, and a few other factors, we can all agree that most households should have more than one. (C’mon, what are you going to dry off with while your sole towel is being washed?!)

For a more definitive answer though, we’re going to need Marie Kondo to weigh in.

How many towels should you own?  What about sheets sets, blankets, or kitchen towels?  How many are too much?

Country clubs on the decline?

by July

Death of the Country Club
A changing culture imperils a venerable institution.

The country club, once a mainstay of American suburbia, faces a cloudy future, with a changing culture eroding its societal influence. Golf and tennis, the traditional club pastimes, have lost popularity. Declining marriage and fertility rates mean fewer families joining. Young professionals, many burdened with limited incomes and high debt, balk at paying dues. And a yearning for broader community makes the clubhouse’s exclusivity unappealing. The country club is increasingly a refuge for retirees—and, upon closure, a site for mixed-use development.

What do you think?  Do you see this happening  locally?  What replaces a country club for younger generations?

Real estate topics

by July

When the housing crisis hit in 2007, they thought their time to buy had come. They bought a condo in the Fontainebleau, a resort in Miami Beach, in 2010, after prices had bottomed out, paying 60 percent less than it had sold for two years earlier. The condo has since doubled in value.

In hindsight I regret not snapping up a distressed Miami condo back a few years ago as recommended by more than one person I know.  What about you?  Have you had success in real estate investing?  Or, are you just not interested?  Or, like me, have you had a bad experience that soured you on that sector?

What’s your take on this?

A Growing Problem in Real Estate:  Too Many Too Big Houses – WSJ

Decade by decade

by July

This writer had an unusual way of commemorating her 30th birthday.

My 20s passed away Thursday morning at their home in Brooklyn. It has been confirmed that they expired after a lengthy battle with expectations. At the time of their departure, they had just turned 10 years old.

My 20s are best known for creating, producing and distributing panic attacks. Although most episodes of my 20s’ panic attacks were centered on career issues, several of the most attention-grabbing installments were stand-alone: They include such classics as “Casual Sex,” “Could Be Doing More to Save Democracy” and, of course, the annual holiday episode, “Immediate Family.”…

The final hours of my 20s were spent in the presence of dear platonic friends. At the time of passing, there was singing. One friend described the gathering as “kind of like a celebration.”

My 20s are survived by my 30s, who ask for privacy at this time.

Here’s another article marking the end of a “period” in the author’s life.


How would you characterize your 20s or other decades you’ve lived?  How do you remember the expectations, relationships, and goals of your past when compared to today?  Highs and lows?  Do the stages of your life have definitive themes or do they all meld together?  Do you miss aspects of some decades, or do you wish them “good riddance!”  Would you like a redo for some years?  No need to try to be clever like the linked essays, but you can write obituaries if you’d like or just simply reflect on olden days.

Your first apartment

by July

What was your first apartment like?  Bare bones or tastefully furnished?  What about your college dorm experience?  Your first home, with or without a partner?  Did you get help from parents or from others?  For those with adult children, what has been their experience?  Give us details.  Any lessons learned or regrets?

Does this look familiar to anyone?

Cultivating a look

by July

Elizabeth Holmes used a deep voice (fake by many accounts), black turtlenecks, and blonde hair to cultivate a look that helped as she guided her company Theranos to a meteoric rise and later disastrous fall.  She’s now facing federal criminal charges that she tried to defraud investors and patients.

Even if you’ve never achieved the “success” and failure of Holmes, can you relate to cultivating a particular look, either for business or pleasure? Have you ever tried to make your voice sound deeper and more authoritative?  Do you have a clothing style or uniform that you consistently wear?  Have you colored your hair?  This may seem more geared to women, but men also frequently try to build a certain image in the way they dress or behave.

Anything else you find particularly fascinating about the Theranos story?

Elizabeth Holmes’ Baritone

Why the Black Turtleneck Was So Important to Elizabeth Holmes’s Image
It has a long and symbolic history.

Why we care so much about Elizabeth Holmes’s “bad hair”
It’d be easy to believe that the Theranos founder’s split ends were part of the scam. But there’s a simpler answer.

It might not be a leap, then, to suggest that Holmes’s hair was just another calculated component of her aesthetic. It is, of course, dyed blonde, an unexceptional quality for an American white woman to have, but made slightly more exceptional when noting that while just 2 percent of the population has naturally blonde hair, 48 percent of female CEOs at S&P 500 companies do, which could have been Holmes’s way, conscious or otherwise, of attempting to become one of them.

Chronic illness

by July

A chronic illness can affect your life in many ways.

It’s hard to be a good employee when you need extended time off. It’s hard to be a good friend when you cancel plans last minute. It’s hard to be a good partner or parent when you barely have the energy to get out of bed. No matter how much you try to explain, people expect you to get better already — and when you don’t, they resent you, consciously or not. Some relationships end entirely, casualties of an unfair and misunderstood illness, while others get stronger as you find your true support system.

But most of all, your relationship with yourself changes. You grieve a version of yourself that doesn’t exist anymore, and a future version that looks different than you’d planned.

You might have to give up career goals, hobbies and family plans, learning a “new normal” in their place. “In trauma therapy we call this ‘integration,’ the task of integrating a new reality into one’s life and worldview,” Mr. Lundquist said. “This emotional work can look a lot like grief therapy for a passing loved one.” Try to be patient as you get to know the new version of yourself.

Side effects from the ongoing treatment for a chronic illness can be a source of constant worry. The financial burden may affect your sense security and overall quality of life. It’s easy to start feeling helpless and overly dependent on others.

Any thoughts or advice?

The Moneyist

by July

The Moneyist column is one of my guilty pleasures.  It bills itself as “the ethics and etiquette of your financial affairs”, and typically features a money problem tinged with family drama.  Like this one from Disgruntled Wife:

I just discovered that my husband is leaving his personal savings …to his mother

As is the case with every column, the Moneyist responds and then readers chime in with their comments.

How would you advise Disgruntled Wife?  What about these other sticky situations?

My dad didn’t love me! He only left me $10,000

My boyfriend and I have two kids — should I pay off his $130,000 student debt?

The next time you go anywhere, remember the $1 tip is dead

Can you personally relate to these cases?  Do you have any Moneyist stories?

Carpe diem

by July

This tweet is from a daughter whose mother died leaving behind many of her best things that she was never able to enjoy because she was saving them for some distant day.

Are you finding the right balance between enjoying it now and prudently saving for the future?

Don’t wait, enjoy it now

I’ve done a lot of thinking about life and death, growing older and mortality in the past few months. I was quite depressed for a while, could not escape the thought that one could be perfectly fine today, but wake up tomorrow with a lump or a pain that was going to change everything.

Feeling better now and have come to realize that this is the time to enjoy life more and do the things that bring me joy. DH and I are planning two trips this year, and I am not going to delay them because what if my parents need me or maybe we should pay off a few more bills first, we are going this year.

I just purchased a new comforter and window shades for our bedroom and am having the room painted next week. Not 100% necessary, but it will make me happy every day.

What else? What can you do today or this month or this year that makes you happy?

Technology Q&A

by July

Let’s talk tech.

33 Mostly Free Ways to Fix Your Family’s Tech Problems – WSJ

Do these tips make sense to you?  What other advice do you have for tech problems?

I can relate to this:

Spam calls have stopped people from answering their phones

Plus mostly good stuff on the horizon:

From Wi-Fi to Bluetooth to 5G, All Your Wireless Is About to Change – WSJ

Does you have any questions about technology issues?  Post them in the comments and we may be able to help each other out.