Archive for the ‘Mental illness’ Category

The American Psychological Association’s Brief on Homosexuality and Sexual Orientation

February 21, 2013

APA LogoSince 1975, the American Psychological Association has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations. The discipline of psychology is concerned with the well-being of people and groups and therefore with threats to that well-being. The prejudice and discrimination that people who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual regularly experience have been shown to have negative psychological effects. This information is designed to provide accurate information for those who want to better understand sexual orientation and the impact of prejudice and discrimination on those who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual.

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For Bishop Robert Vasa, Catholic Faith Trumps Medical Norms, Reason, and Science.

December 22, 2012
Bishop Robert Vasa

Bishop Robert Vasa

In February of last year, Bishop Robert Vasa, Coadjutor of the Diocese of Santa Rose in California, addressed faithful Catholics at a White Mass sponsored by the Kansas City chapter of the Catholic Medical Association. His message was about medical ethics. Catholic Internet media approved and channeled it uncritically to their readers, most of whom—judging from the comments—found it edifying.

Here is some of what Bishop Vasa said:

In those instances where faith and reason seem to be in conflict then, provided you truly know your faith, you will become convinced that it is reason and not faith which is involved in error.

In our subjectivist, relativistic age which often masquerades as an age of pure reason it is tempting to put a lot more faith in science and reason than it is to put faith in God. Yet, both are acts of faith and both are directed toward a perceived god. For much of our society that god is science or government or technology. For us there is a greater God and a greater good.

We are repeatedly challenged to decide if we are people of science or people of faith.  In truth, we must always be both. In those instances where faith and science agree there is no moral or ethical conflict. In those instances where science or the usual practice of medicine conflicts with faith, or conflicts with the moral code of our Church, we must be men and women of faith.

The Catholic Medical Association, which sponsored the mass, is very clear about its priorities. Its mission statement says, “The Catholic Medical Association [CMA] is dedicated to upholding the principles of the Catholic Faith as related to the practice of medicine…” One might have expected something more like, “The CMA is dedicated to providing superior medical care and advancing the scientific understanding of disease.”

Here is the CMA’s statement about homosexuality:

CMA supports the teachings of the Catholic Church as laid out in the revised version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in particular the teachings on sexuality: “… tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered… Under no circumstance can they be approved.” (CCC, n.2333)”

The CMA’s position on homosexuality and its support of the so-called “reparative therapies” is diametrically at variance with that of the World Health Organization, which has stated the following:

  1. “Conversion” or “reparative” therapies and the clinics offering them should be denounced and subject to adequate sanctions.
  2. Public institutions responsible for training health professionals should include courses on human sexuality and sexual health in their curricula, with a focus on respect for diversity and the elimination of attitudes of pathologization, rejection, and hate toward non-heterosexual persons.
  3. Professional associations should disseminate documents and resolutions by national and international institutions and agencies that call for the de-psychopathologization of sexual diversity and the prevention of interventions aimed at changing sexual orientation.

Any Catholic doctor or medical institution that is guided by the values and ethics of the Catholic Medical Association should take heed. Any person who subjects him- or herself to treatment by such a doctor or institution should be wary.

“Production for Use,” Adam Lanza, and the Newtown CT Shootings

December 18, 2012
Rosalind Russell and John Qualen in "His Girl Friday"

Rosalind Russell and John Qualen in “His Girl Friday”

A fast-moving episode from Howard Hawks’ 1940 film, His Girl Friday came to mind this morning, just four days after Adam Lanza, a young man with mental health issues and an arsenal of weapons shot and killed 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut.

In the scene, Hilde Johnson, the fast-talking reporter played by Rosalind Russell, is interviewing a suspected cop-killer, Earl Williams, played by actor John Qualen:

Williams: He [the soap-box speaker] said everything should be made use of.

Hildy: It makes quite a bit of sense, doesn’t it?…Now look, Earl, when you found yourself with that gun in your hand, and that policeman coming at you, what did you think about?…You must have thought of something…Could it have been, uh, ‘production for use’?…What’s a gun for Earl?

Williams: A gun?…Why to shoot, of course.

Hildy: Oh. Maybe that’s why you used it.

Williams: Maybe.

Hildy: Seems reasonable?

Williams: Yes, yes it is. You see, I’ve never had a gun in my hand before. That’s what a gun’s for, isn’t it? Maybe that’s why.

Hildy: Sure it is.

Williams: Yes, that’s what I thought of. Production for use. Why, it’s simple isn’t it?

Hildy: Very simple.

Williams: There’s nothing crazy about that, is there?

Hildy: Nope. Nothing at all.

Williams: You’ll write about that in your paper, won’t you?

Hildy: You bet I will.

Williams: I liked talking to you.

I probably would not have thought about this scene, which for some reason had persisted in my memory after all these years, had I not been reading a book by British psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, called “The Master and His Emissary.” On page 90, he writes,

“‘Environmental dependency’ syndrome’ refers to an inability to inhibit automatic responses to environmental cues: it is also known as ‘forced utilisation behaviour.’  Individuals displaying such behaviour will, for example, pick up a pair of glasses that are not their own and put them on, just because they are lying on the table, involuntarily pick up a pen and paper and start writing, or passively copy the behaviour of the examiner without being asked to, even picking up a stethoscope and pretending to use it.”

McGilchrist cites a study in which four out of five cases of forced utilisation behaviour were associated with a lesion in the right frontal lobe of the brain. “In each case the patient explained that ‘you held out objects to me; I thought I had to use them.’”

Adam Lanza’s mother was a gun enthusiast and had collected the guns that Adam used in the shooting. She had often taken him out for shooting practice. She knew that he had been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

Nancy Lanza

Nancy Lanza