Monday, February 23, 2009

It isn't my fault if this post is false

This article is a review of a new book on addiction. The book sounds quite interesting. Not having read it, I can only comment on the book author's perspective from the second-hand view of the author of the book review. Still, just a couple comments about the book author's perspective. He claims that most families of addicts:
"erroneously believe that willpower is their loved one’s main problem” and that this belief indicates “cultural confusion and apathy..."
So, to believe that an addict's problems are, at least in part, the result of a lack of willpower is erroneous and indicative of confusion. For it to be true that this belief is erroneous, that would require objective evidence that the problems are not a function of will power. But the issue of will power is simply the issue of free will. And the question of free will in nowhere near answered. To believe that people have free will and to consequently believe, then, that peoples' behaviors are, at least in part, the result of free will is neither accurate nor erroneous.

I understand that many in the therapeutic, psychiatric, political, etc. communities want us to believe that addiction is a medical condition like cancer, such that once we acquire it we can only be cured by paying someone with extensive skills to fix us. But it is not "true" to say that, nor is erroneous to say otherwise. It is an unanswered, and potentially unanswerable, question.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Gotta Have My Weedies

A friend/colleague of mine sent two article links this morning to a group of us. The first deals with an area of interest to my friend - increased organized crime violence in Mexico. The second, from the WSJ, which might seem completely unrelated, is summarized as follows:
The nation is in a fury over the missteps of public figures like Alex Rodriguez and Tom Daschle (and Michael Phelps). Joe Queenan on why focusing on human foibles is more therapeutic than getting mad at Wall Street -- and why everyone should lighten up.
As someone who frequently seems to see patterns where none exist (could it be schizophrenia…or the DaColbert Code ?), I see a connection between the articles: Michael Phelps. Here’s where I’m seeing a connection. I quite agree with, for the most part, the author of the WSJ article. But I can’t get beyond his culturally-standard moral judgments, understood by Kohlberg for decades, based on the sadly simplistic “If it is illegal, it is wrong!” thinking. The author writes of Michael Phelps:
(He) violated an old-fashioned code of morality that we can all understand…(and) what (he) did is certainly wrong…
No doubt, what Phelps did was illegal. But on what grounds is it a “violation of a code or morality” and/or “certainly wrong”? Sure, I suppose what he did was immoral with the childlike decision that doing what is illegal is immoral and certainly wrong. Wouldn’t that mean, though, that what Rosa Parks did “violated a code of morality” and was thus “certainly wrong”? Anyone really want to defend that argument? So how does this relate to the article on violence in Mexico? Well, just last week, the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy released a report that begins:
Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade are critical problems in Latin America today. Confronted with a situation that is growing worse by the day, it is imperative to rectify the “war on drugs” strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years.
Wow, an increase in organized crime and violence associated with drug prohibition. As an American, I find that really hard to believe! It would never happen here Seriously, when eight college students get arrested because an Olympic athlete gets photographed smoking a bong, is it hard to imagine that pot smoking might become an underground activity with an organized crime system designed to help people get away with it? Disclaimer: I’ve said many times that I’ve no interest in pot because I found my drug of choice at a very young age, and that drug is, thankfully, legal.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

25 Things About Me

1. I'm not a contagious disease-ridden parasite.
This article, The Evolutionary Roots of Facebook's "25 Things" Craze, looks at the social networking phenomenon from an evolutionary perspective (I suppose it is because it is Charles Darwin's Birthday?). It "explains that '25 Things' authors can be seen as 'contagious' under what's known as a 'susceptible-infected-recovered' model for the spread of disease." It says we can "(t)hink of '25 Things' authors as being contagious for one day—the day they tag a bunch of their friends." It is because of this contagion that the meme spread through Facebook.
I completed the 25 things list. But my #2 was:
2) I’m not going to tag anyone with this little game. I’m sure some “Six Degrees of Separation” rule will bring this to everyone on Facebook without a tag from me.
I may have slightly overestimated how easily these things spread through Facebook. According to the article, this was the first big Facebook meme to spread like this:
The fact that it took two-and-a-half years for a Notes-based meme to hit it big suggests long odds.
Still, it appears several of my online friends owe me one of those little "You Better Get Checked" notes, and I don't owe anyone anything. Good for me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hello. My name is Dennis. I buy things.

I've been following this one for years. Even better than having people pay you money so you can counsel them how to not waste their money, psychiatrists are considering whether shopping addiction should be a diagnosable condition.
As spenders spend while the economy plummets, the psychiatric world is trying to decide whether compulsive buying should actually be considered a disease.
They've been testing whether anti-depressants (SSRIs) can treat shopping addiction since at least 2000.
The New York-based pharmaceutical company Forest Laboratories and Stanford University are testing a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or S.S.R.I., on the women-who-shop-too-much population. In the study, 24 compulsive buyers are taking Celexa, already approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an antidepressant, over a 12-week period. Though the trial won't be complete until later this year, the early results look ''very promising''...
Step 1: Medicalize the behavior; Step 2: Convince people you can cure the "medical condition" with drugs; Step 3: Sell the people the drugs. Sure, this is standard. But how cool is it when you're selling the drugs to people who will buy anything ? A truly brilliant marketing campaign.