The Internet is an increasingly popular way for people to crisis to seek help - in confidence
"It may seem paradoxical at a time when fears of electronic invasion of privacy are increasing, but for people like Carrie the Internet can add another layer of privacy beyond the standard choices of talking anonymously on a hotline or meeting in the sworn secrecy of a support group. The Web offers a chance to gather information in private before deciding how to proceed." You can read the whole article on Newsday.com. This has been happening since the mid-1990s when it comes to information-providing Websites (like this one!), and since the late 1980s, in newsgroups like alt.support.depression.
(Posted at 09:55:41 AM EDT.)
"The state of Texas has executed convicted killer Gary Graham by lethal injection for the fatal shooting of a man in 1981 outside a Houston grocery store as part of a weeklong crime rampage. Graham went to his death Thursday at 8:49 p.m. (9:49 p.m. EDT) protesting his innocence in the shooting of Bobby Lambert, witnesses said." One of the reasons that the USA remains in Amnesty International's 2000 Report about human rights abuses in the world. A sad day. This man was far from "innocent" of many crimes, but do we still need state-sanctioned killing?? It doesn't work (obviously!) as a deterrant. So what's the point??!
(Posted at 09:44:46 AM EDT.)
Healtheon/WebMD Reworks Acquisition
"Healtheon/WebMD (HLTH) has renegotiated its acquisition of Medical Manager (MMGR) and its CareInsite (CARI) subsidiary, giving the companies' chairman, industry veteran Marty Wygod, a more direct role in running Healtheon/WebMD. Wygod, 60, will become co-CEO of the new company, to be called WebMD, along with current Healtheon/WebMD CEO Jeff Arnold. When the acquisition was announced in February, Wygod was to become cochairman after the merger." Read the rest of the article at The Industry Standard's Website.
(Posted at 02:31:51 PM EDT.)
UI study finds evidence of multiple symptoms, but no 'Gulf War syndrome'
"In a study involving nearly 3,700 Gulf War-era veterans from Iowa, University of Iowa Health Care researchers did not find evidence of a unique "Gulf War syndrome" attributed to military service in the Persian Gulf from 1990-1991. While the findings should alleviate concerns about an unexplained "mystery illness" among Gulf War veterans, the study results make clear the need to recognize the number of unexplained symptoms among veterans who served in the Persian Gulf and develop strategies for preventing similar health problems following future military operations. The study is published in the June 15 issue of the American Journal of Medicine." So much contradictory research in this area, but I think researchers are finding common ground -- there are some symptoms which are unexplained, by an actual syndrome doesn't appear present. These kinds of results have been coming out since the end of the Gulf War, but the press rarely gives them as much attention as the studies which show the opposite.
(Posted at 09:47:56 AM EDT.)
The effect of education on depression increases with age
"Individuals with fewer years of education, who tend to have fewer financial and social resources to cope with stress, are known to be more vulnerable to depression. However, few studies have examined whether this vulnerability remains static over a lifetime." Here's the study that does. "Much of the reason that individuals with higher education are more successful in postponing increases in depression is attributable to their relatively better physical health," said Miech, one of the study's researchers. Hmm, all the more reason to keep in shape.
(Posted at 09:44:43 AM EDT.)
Bad neighborhoods can contribute to depression
"Neighborhoods are often thought merely to reflect the people who live in them, but a new study suggests that bad neighborhoods contribute to feelings of depression in residents. Analyzing data from a survey of nearly 2,500 Illinois residents, Ross found that residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods -- characterized by a high percentage of poor, mother-only households -- had higher depression levels than those living in less disadvantaged neighborhoods." This is not at all surprising. Expected, even. If everyone lived in a neighborhood similar to Beverly Hills rather than some crack-infested projects, gee, is it any wonder one's mood might be affected?!??
(Posted at 09:42:52 AM EDT.)
A Comment about Hitchcock
I think in some ways, many of Hitchcock's classics are fatally flawed. For instance in "Vertigo," what happens to Midge in the last 30 minutes of the film?!? That's 1/4 of the film where he simply drops an entire character! Very annoying. In "The Birds," Hitch leaves us with a car driving away from the mayhem. That's the end? Blah. Where's the closure? I feel gypped as a filmgoer. Hitch is a master, that I will give you. But many of his stories seem flawed in this manner... I know the masters claim it's intentional, but I think that's almost giving him too much credit. "The Trouble with Harry" is a very funny comedy with no troubles whatsoever, though!
(Posted at 10:05:27 PM EDT.)
APA Convention 2000 search
As a community service to the world, I threw together a search engine for the APA's 2000 Convention Website, which allows you to search through the program and related materials quickly and easily. It at least limits things down to a specific file (or 5!).
(Posted at 09:59:05 PM EDT.)
What's the purpose of repeating game shows? Wow. I hope nobody is so bored that they need to "relive" the experience of seeing someone else win a million bucks again.
(Posted at 09:57:33 PM EDT.)
Woo Hoo!!! I'm in the Boston Globe!
It's the tiniest of mentions, but if you scroll alllll the way down to the bottom of the page, you'll see a teeny, tiny little note about my joining HelpHorizons.com. I have no idea who put that in there, but it's cool nonetheless. The strangest side effect of this is that I've already gotten two calls from "financial business planners" looking to help me manage my burgeoning finances. As if! Student loans are like a miniature mortgage I'm paying off for another, what?, 10 years?!
(Posted at 11:27:12 AM EDT.)
Grohol's Excellence in Mental Health Awards
Any site which has reached Top Rated or Cool status in Psych Central's resource directory gets to display a new Excellence in Mental Health award for recognition of their outstanding work in this area online. I think this kind of recognition is important because all too often, mental health is the area of health left out. The ugly duckling of the health family, one might say. I try and do what I can to make sure these top sites get the recognition they deserve.
(Posted at 08:00:58 PM EDT.)
Watching Hitchcock's Notorious this weekend on the American Movie Classic channel's Hitchcock's marathon, I couldn't help but think how this movie would be portrayed if it were released in 2000. The APAs and NAMI and a half dozen other consumer organizations would come out against the movie, because it involves a psychiatrist getting romantically involved with one of her patients. Could you imagine!?? Hitchcock couldn't even make a movie like that in today's politically correct society. How many other movies have we missed out on because they were self-censored by a movie studio or the director or a screenwriter with potential? I don't know, but I hope not many.
(Posted at 07:55:44 PM EDT.)
A Common Misperception
A common misperception online is about domain names, carried over from the pre-commercial days of the Internet. Before the Internet was opened to a lot of companies (many big companies who helped build the infrastructure of the Net have been on it since the 1980s), the following structures were used:
- .com - Commercial businesses
- .org - Nonprofit organizations (had to show proof of nonprofit status)
- .net - Network providers (had to show proof of network provisioning)
But ever since somewheres about 1996, these rules are no longer valid. Anybody can register any business or organization under any or all of these domain choices. A .org no more guarantees the Website is a nonprofit than a .net means you're visiting a network provider. And a .com doesn't mean the organization is automatically for-profit. I've run across this misinformation as recently as a few weeks ago on a mailing list, amongst professionals, so I know it's still being disseminated.
(Posted at 07:51:07 PM EDT.)
Marnie: An Amateur Psychological Drama?
Marnie, if you didn't know, is a 1964 Hitchcock film which suffered horrible reviews when it was released. Some consider it amongst Hitchcock's worst work, while others defend it as a decent psychological drama. One comment at IMDB caught my eye, and I thought I'd repeat it here:
This late Hitchcock psychodrama about a beautiful kleptomaniac (Tippi Hedrin) and the wealthy man who is obsessed with her (Sean Connery) is a bit thin dramatically, and slower paced than his best movies. In fact it is closer to a psychiatric case study than a thriller. But Hitchcock more than makes up for that with his masterful direction. What is most striking about it is his dramatic use of extreme closeups, deft camera movements, effective blackouts between scenes, and deliberately artificial backdrops and rear screen projections that have an expressionistic effect. Amateur psychologists will have a field day with the symbolism (how about that vault!) and with the causes for Marnie's various neuroses and psychoses (such as frigidity and kleptomania). Also interesting is Connery's bizarre fetish for the klepto Hedrin that is reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart's fetish for the dead Kim Novak in "Vertigo." In short, this movie has dramatic flaws, but it is thematically intriguing and cinematically dazzling. (A bonus is the excellent, atmospheric score by Bernhard Herrmann.)
Lots of other reviews are also available if you're interested. So, if you do like analyzing films for their psychological content, this may be one for you that you weren't aware of. Personally, I think it's a pretty interesting film, if for no other reason to see a very young Sean Connery in a role which isn't James Bond!
(Posted at 11:14:20 PM EDT.)
Strange Book Trends
I was browsing my book online (making sure the link still works and all) yesterday at Amazon.com and noticed that it was the 17th most popular, local book being bought by El Paso, Texas residents. How crazy is that??! Those folks down in El Paso love me!!! But the more burning question I'd like answered is, where else do they love me so much!??? I love how much information Amazon.com is gathering and can collate into these weird trivia bits ("Buying Circles"). Somebody over there is thinking well, and thinking in terms of doing new things with very old concepts. They're a company always worth watching (and buying, if you can afford the stock!).
(Posted at 10:56:36 PM EDT.)
Internet Use Stats
According to a survey of 1,000 frequent Internet users by RealNames and Berrier Associates, the average person now spends 14 hours per week online. That's 2 hours a day! Granted, this is for "frequent" Internet users, but that shows you the high-end of normal usage. I assume this disincludes those who spend all day at work online (folks like myself!), which could greatly upset the average.
(Posted at 10:28:23 PM EDT.)
AMA passes guidelines for doctor/patient e-mail
"The American Medical Association has adopted a set of guidelines for making e-mail a more effective means of communication between doctors and patients, while staying mindful of privacy issues and possible technical glitches.
Given the widespread use of e-mail, the AMA said it is "a viable avenue for patient communication," and cited many studies that show it is beneficial to patients. The group said e-mail has the potential to streamline "routine" health matters.
The AMA acknowledged the need to protect patient privacy by requiring doctors to tell patients whether anyone besides the intended recipient will read the message or see it during processing.
Password-protected screen savers should be used for workstations in the office, hospital and at home, the AMA said.
Although doctors should maintain a mailing list of their patients, the AMA said doctors should never send group e-mails where other recipients are listed. Additionally, doctors should not share patients' e-mail addresses with marketers or family members." Read the rest of the news article on CNN. Unfortunately, the AMA's Website has no notice of this.
(Posted at 02:59:26 PM EDT.)
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 44,551
It is, of course, always cool to see that my book is still doing so well. For such a niche book, being in the top 45,000 ain't so bad! Thank you!!
(Posted at 10:52:08 AM EDT.)
The real Sylvia Plath: Her newly published, unexpurgated journals reveal the poet's true demons -- and support a little-known theory about
what drove her to suicide. Part 1, Part 2. Also, a story entitled, "The agony after ecstasy: I took the drug for nearly a year
to lift myself to euphoria. Then I crashed hard."
(Posted at 09:07:53 AM EDT.)
No direct causal link found between family size, birth order and children's intelligence, according to new study
"Contrary to popular belief, having more children born into a family does not necessarily result in lower-IQ children, according to new research published in the June issue of the American Psychologist." Putting to rest yet another one of those popular misbeliefs.
(Posted at 08:53:07 AM EDT.)
Patient race and gender may affect physician diagnosis of mental health problems
"The race and gender of a patient may influence whether his or her mental health problems are recognized by a primary care physician, suggest the results of a study. Mental health problems like depression are common in primary care populations and can severely impair functioning. These problems can also be costly since such conditions tend to increase primary care visits." The researchers were very nonspecific about hypothesizing why this is happening, suggesting that "their receiving care from physicians who are less oriented toward depression counseling." Or they're prejudiced or racist. Funny how they didn't mention those possibilities as well.
(Posted at 08:50:59 AM EDT.)
Physical activity, including walking, associated with substantial reduction in risk for stroke in women
"Increasing physical activity levels are associated with a substantial reduction in risk of total and ischemic stroke in women, according to an article in the June 14 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)." Can't beat that -- walking!
(Posted at 08:47:10 AM EDT.)
This new Website details the failures in the .com industry. An interesting site to watch if the health of .com's interests you in the first place.
(Posted at 08:43:21 AM EDT.)
Comments sought by USDHHS on health information reports
I thought this announcement was important enough to share here... "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is soliciting oral and written testimony from the public about the issues raised in two interim reports from the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS): "Toward a National Health Information Infrastructure," and "Shaping a Vision for 21st Century health Statistics." Copies of these papers are available on the NCVHS Web site at www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/NHII2kReport.htm, and http://www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/Vision21stReport.htm.
The first of four regional hearings on the reports will be held on July 10, 2000, at the Westin Hotel O'Hare near Chicago. Information about this hearing is available at www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/000710fr.htm. People wishing to testify in Chicago or submit written testimony should send a short text (2-3 pages) by e-mail to Patrice Upchurch at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 26th if possible.
The dates and locations of the other three hearings are as follows: October 30, 2000 (San Francisco, California); November 20, 2000 (Boston, Massachusetts); January 11, 2001 (Washington, D.C.). Details about the future hearings will be available later at www.ncvhs.hhs.gov." The government could have made our lives easier by providing a single URL to go to, but hey, why not use 4 different ones!??!?
(Posted at 04:10:10 PM EDT.)
Google Bets The Ranch On Linux
"Search engine Google has deployed 4,000 Linux servers, with plans to increase to 6,000 this year, making it possibly the largest Linux installation in the world." This was news 2 weeks ago, but I forgot to post it. 4,000 computers! Isn't that cool? What an ingenious, low cost way to run the world's best and most powerful search engine. Typically such companies would buy very expensive, proprietary Sun or IBM machines (eBay was running a very expensive Sun machine when it had that super-outage a few months back). Such machines rarely have very good backups, because of their cost, or redundancy, but some sysadmins think they are necessary if your business is transaction-based. Google, of course, is not. But hey, if one of those 4,000 Linux boxes fail, who cares? The traffic automatically routes to another box and that one is taken out and repaired. Nice setup. Not the first company to do this, but certainly one of the largest.
(Posted at 03:18:17 PM EDT.)
Cyber Advice: Online sex therapy is booming
"Sex therapists have joined the Internet age and are figuring out how to counsel people through e-mail, chats and videoconferencing. The new form of therapy is still in its infancy, but may be working for people who can't or won't seek face-to-face counseling." Read the rest of the article from Fox News. I've been saying this now for years... The stigma of seeking help for embarassing (or potentially embarassing) problems is large and keeps people from treatment. The Internet helps reduce that problem, by offering individuals a modality of treatment which keeps the embarassment factor low.
(Posted at 10:59:26 AM EDT.)
Evaluating Suicidal Risk
A 1999 study by Peruzzi and Bongar showed that the top 8 factors associated with suicidal risk are: medical seriousness of previous suicide attempts, history of suicide attempts, acute suicidal ideation, severe hopelessness, attraction to death, family history of suicide, acute overuse of alcohol, and recent loss or separations.
(Posted at 08:07:52 PM EDT.)
Schizophrenia Can be Treated with Psychotherapy
A lot of people mistakenly believe, because of misinformation campaigns by drug companies and organizations like NAMI, that schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders cannot be effectively treated by psychotherapy unless they are mild. Well, here's yet
another study that illustrates the power of psychotherapy. This study was done on a group of people who were resistant to medications for the treatment of schizophrenia, and showed that cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy provided sustained improvements at a 9-month followup (compared to the control group).
(Posted at 08:04:28 PM EDT.)
U.N. evicts cybersquatters seeking easy money
"Net users who register famous names in the hope of a fast buck may find their days are numbered as celebrities and companies flock to a U.N. arbitration system to evict them from Internet addresses." FYI, if you're one of them (and you know who you are!), just sitting on some famous name waiting for someone to pay you a few thousands to get it, well, ya better hurry up and sell.
(Posted at 04:57:53 PM EDT.)
Backed Up Book Reviews
To anyone who's recommended a book to read or sent me a book to review, let me assure you, it is all on my plate of things to do soon! I've packed all the review books (the stack is, unfortunately, getting higher by the month!), and am going to try and get through everything this summer. My apologies for the delay and if you have any further book recommendations, please send them along to me. I'm always interested in a good resource to recommend to my readers.
(Posted at 04:56:19 PM EDT.)
We've All Moved
Something I haven't yet mentioned was that a whole lot of Websites have moved off of hosting from their old MHN servers. Behavior OnLine and Psych Central are the two big ones (obviously!), but so did the International Society for Mental Health Online a few months ago. It was for the better, and we're all much happier now.
(Posted at 08:09:15 PM EDT.)
Have Your Read It?
Have you read the latest issue of The Ferguson Report? Well, if not, you should. Tom always gets things right, and his article on Type 1 versus Type 2 doctor/patient relationships is not to be missed!! Go! Read it now!
(Posted at 08:06:35 PM EDT.)
I'm in Packing Mode
I'm moving in less than 3 weeks, so I'm in packing mode. What that means is that life takes on a little more harried pace, I lose access to some items (like books! ack!!), and during the week of the actual move in early July, I will be largely offline. I've been toying with the idea of putting up a Website to journal my move, but haven't yet gotten around to it. I would think it would mostly be fun for my friends and family, but who knows? You may like it too! We'll see...
(Posted at 08:04:22 PM EDT.)
Health Website Traffic and Analysis
According to Media Metrix via Interactive Week, the top ten health Websites in traffic for April, 2000 were, in order of the most trafficked first: OnHealth.com, AOL-Health, WebMD.com, MotherNature.com, drkoop.com, NIH.gov, ThriveOnline.com, PlanetRx.com, Drugstore.com, and More.com. I think it is very noteworthy that of these top 10, 4 of them are e-commerce pharmacy/drug/vitmain sites. That means a significant number of online consumers are turning to the stores where they are purchasing their goods for help and information. Is this a growing trend? You bet it is, and one to watch. It's much easier for a store to offer additional information and services related to the products they are already selling and known for than it is for a content site to try and create a storefront.
(Posted at 08:01:19 PM EDT.)