Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Bloody Vapidity

So I have this particularly bizarre habit of watching horrible movies because they frankly are more entertaining than the ones that are "good". I mean really, I can only sit through things like "The English Patient" about once every 6 years, however, I could watch epically funny failures like "My Bloody Valentine 3D" over and over again purely for the laughter.

There is something about cinema, where so much is expected, nay, demanded, and the viewer ends up watching these drawn out fable like classics with melodrama out the ears and everyone is supposed to nod sagely and depart after. Frankly, this is the same garbage I went through as a Lit major, only it was literature tripe versus it's film equivalent.

That being said, while I'm much more of a casual movie viewer than most, this movie was still absolutely absurd and completely rubbish. My sides hurt by the end of it and my mouth was sore from laughter, but my brain was hurting because of all the plot holes it continued to trip on. This being said I plan on exploring these a little more in depth later, when I'm not so damned tired.

Post to be ammended with all due haste,

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Logic of Emotion

Every time I happen upon an article written about depression, I always inwardly groan and grit my teeth. They are, by and large, bitch fests about medication, and the erroneous assumption that Psychiatrists hand out pills like candy to take care of any frown.

However, there are always some that are infinitely worse than others, and spurned on by bad psychiatry and bad logic, they always seem to find a way to wriggle into my view and make me frustrated, amongst other less palpable emotions.

"Is it really bad to be sad?" is amazingly poor, however, to the point where I thought I had to comment on it and tear it apart. As someone who has experienced both mania and extreme, disabling depression I've got a good handle on what the feelings are, and how they effect the body.

"When you find something this deeply in us biologically, you presume that it was selected because it had some advantage, otherwise we wouldn't have been burdened with it," says Jerome Wakefield, a clinical social worker at New York University and co-author of The Loss of Sadness: How psychiatry transformed normal sorrow into depressive disorder (with Allan Horwitz, Oxford University Press, 2007). "We're fooling around with part of our biological make-up."
Let me first stress that this is a clinical social worker. For those of you not in the know, a clinical social worker is NOT the equivalent of a Psychiatrist, and is not capable of and/or trained to perform medical diagnostic procedures. Beyond which, does it really need to be pointed out that we still have things such as wisdom teeth, the appendix, and the foetal "tail"? Or to go to something intrinsic, the feeling of falling that suddenly wakes you in the night may well be an instinctive reaction to our ancestors being arboreal. Long story short, real science postulates that there are a plethora of things within our biological make-up that are either functionless or possibly detrimental.

Wakefield believes that in humans sadness has a further function: it helps us learn from our mistakes. "I think that one of the functions of intense negative emotions is to stop our normal functioning, to make us focus on something else for a while," he says. It might act as a psychological deterrent to prevent us from making those mistakes in the first place. The risk of sadness may deter us from being too cavalier in relationships or with other things we value, for example.
This made me litterally laugh aloud; the idea that one has to feel depression in order to learn from mistakes is almost like the begining of a crude joke. I've been in many detrimental relationships and because of the depression I reflected the mistakes of my partner onto myself; what was a communication error on their part became in my mind an extension of my failure as a human being. Ergo, I learned so little from my experiences I allowed it to happen time and again; it has only been through my treatment that I've developed a greater sense of awareness, and thusly been able to do things such as step back and spot personality patterns that I need to avoid. With depression there is an incredible self centeredness to it; not vanity as we're most accustomed to associating with the term, but the constant hyper-awareness of ones misery becomes the sole focus from which it's almost impossibly difficult to turn away.

What's more, says Paul Keedwell, a psychiatrist at Cardiff University in the UK, even full-blown depression may save us from the effects of long-term stress. Without taking time out to reflect, he says, "you might stay in a state of chronic stress until you're exhausted or dead". He also thinks that we may have evolved to display sadness as a form of communication. By acting sad, we tell other community members that we need support.
My laughter at this point dissintigrated into an enraged and firey discussion with my parents, friends, whomever was in ear or typing shot. If you simply google the words "depression" and "stress" within the same search, you get hundreds of thousands of links that state elloquently how stress hormones are often exagerated by or the cause of some very extreme depression. The Society for Neuroscience has a fascinating article about Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) and how, "Studies have shown that abnormally high activity of this stress hormone is present in many cases of depression." Here is what the Mayo clinic has to say about the issue, and here is an article about depression and stress specifically at holiday time.

Then there is the notion that creativity is connected to dark moods. There is no shortage of great artists, writers and musicians who have suffered from depression or bipolar disorder. It would be difficult to find enough recognised geniuses to test the idea in a large, controlled study, but more run-of-the-mill creativity does seem to be associated with mood disorders. Modupe Akinola and Wendy Berry Mendes of Harvard University found that people with signs of depression performed better at a creative task, especially after receiving feedback that was designed to reinforce their low mood. The researchers suggest that such negative feedback makes people ruminate on the unhappy experience, which allows subconscious creative processes to come to the fore, or that it pushes depression-prone people to work harder to avoid feeling bad in the future (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol 34, p 1677).
The only people to ever be creative are apparently miserable; beyond which what kind of horrifying test encourages people to be miserable? How that got beyond the APA's "ETHICAL PRINCIPLES OF PSYCHOLOGISTS AND CODE OF CONDUCT" I can only guess at, but one study is hardly an effective indicator, especially when there is evidence to the contrary. Returning to the APA, "The researchers found no direct link between depression and creativity." but rather a link between self rumination and creativity, the former can possibly lead to depression. However, one can self-ruminate without becoming depressed (as I can attest to personally) making the subject moot- creativity is simply that, and not the result of depression.

Medicating sadness, Keedwell suggests, could do the same - blunting the consequences of unfortunate situations and removing people's motivation to improve their lives. Giving antidepressants to people whose real problem is something else - a bad relationship, for instance - may allow the person to continue in an unhealthy situation instead of addressing the underlying problem.
This is the summation of the article, and beyond pointing out how inarticulate and clumsy the entire paragraph is, I'll simply address what little facts there are to find. The suggestion that happiness negates logic is, as I've previously stated, foolhardy. If one is capable of seeing a mistake, one is also capable of correcting it, regardless of the "happiness" of the individual person. Depressed persons are just as likely to ignore a situation because they find it to be hopeless; ergo, bad choices are viable options to anyone.

Speaking of bad choices, I suppose that's how I'll end this diatribe; how on earth this got published anywhere is astounding to me, and simply reinforces for me how bad science and bad statistics can be manipulated by just about anyone. e!Science has an interesting take on statistics and it's manipulation which I would suggest as further reading; it is vital in our age of instant media to remember the old adage, "You can't believe everything you read".


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Donning the Mantel of "yet another bored, anonymous, pathetic blogger who lie(s)."

Sarah Palin will absolutely never cease to amaze me. This is of course in the worst way possible, like when I come across a particularly gruesome car wreck and I wonder to myself "How did that even happen?"

I guess it would only figure that this publicity made monster would still be grappling to control some kind of media spotlight; I don't think it's anything more than this, however much CNN pundits would like to disagree. No one could possibly be that thick as to think Mrs. Palin, who knows more about slaughtering wolves then wowing Washington, would try to run for 2012.
"After all, if Palin wants to be a serious presidential contender, she will need broader support than just the rank-and-file conservatives who respond so energetically to media-bashing."

Let's hope for the good of the American people, she'll continue to make an ass of herself in the public arena; after all I like Tina Fey as much as anyone else. My only hope is that the wolves get basic cable, they really could use the howl.

Short and sweet and fun to eat, Beebe style.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What is Resolution Season to the Dadaist?

Welcome gang to the new blog; as per usual, I'm never sure exactly how to start these things or the new year, so I'm going to wax philosophic for the time being, and end it with a list of brand new books. Charming, isn't it?

So it's now officially been one year sense I was hospitalized, both times, and looking back I feel a sense of reticence and possibly shame; a part of me wishes that I could have been more proactive this past year however, that's the perfectionist in me while the realist is far more forgiving.

But what of the Dadaist?

For years now I've had a mild interest (read: obsession with) Dadaism, particularly the ideology and literature, not so much the art. Fundamentally one could say Dadaism has helped me in the darkest moments of my life, when I feel very alone or very anxious I calm myself with manifestos and mantras. Of these collections I've gathered through the years, I have subsequently dissected, bissected and molested the words until their meaning, warped though it may be, imprinted itself upon my psyche: life is a laugh, we're not here very long, and seriousness is for those who wish to waste the time they do have. Guilt, shame, honor, all of those are social constructs meant to manipulate and control (this latter part being mixed liberally with Marxism of course) and they serve no true purpose other than to obfuscate goals, dreams and ideas.

Anyhow, that long digression was me aiming at the fact that this year is a year of optimism for me, a year of laughter, and above all a year of progress but on my terms. Rather than holding myself to the carefully measured, weighed and dictated societal milestones I'm making my own, and taking Frosts proverbial untrod wood toward wherever I decide to go.

Beyond that, this year I'm going to finally figure out exactly what to do to wrap up my physical issues. I've more or less gotten my mental illness under my thumb, now I need to conqure what the rest of my organs are throwing at me. The end of the week I'm discussing the probability of polycystic ovary syndrom with an Endrocrynologist, and we're moving on from there; also doing physical therapy with someone who, will wonders never cease, actually listens to me and cares that I'm progressing.

To wrap this party up, I'm going to list all the brand new books I gathered this holiday season, which I will be subsiquently reviewing here for your perview. I also plan on throwing in some films and possibly plays. Sundry other items of discussion will include my trip to the Netherlands (planning definetly, although I may have a seperate blog for the trip itself) photography, creative and non-fiction writing and drawings.


The Fires of Vesuvius- Pompeii Lost and Found, Mary Beard
Four Queens- The Provençal Sisters who Ruled Europe, Nancy Goldstone
The Fourth Deadly Sin, Lawrence Sanders
Girl Singer- An Autobiography, Rosemary Clooney
Half Broken Things, Morag Joss
The Mad Monk of Gidleigh, Michael Jecks
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
The Meaning of Night - A confession, Michael Cox
My Mistress’s Sparrow is Dead - Great Love Stories, Edited by Jeffrey Eugenides
On a Dark Night I Left my Silent House, Peter Handke
On a Raven’s Wing, Edited by Stuart M. Kaminsky
Out, Natsuo Kirino
The Pandora Prescription, James Sheridan
Santa Clawed, Rita Mae Brown & Sneaky Pie Brown
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
To Hold The Crown- The Story of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Jean Plaidy