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Monday September 27, 2010

With Elections Looming, Republicans Rise

Five weeks before election day, ABC News has updated its handicapping. According to senior Washington editor Rick Klein, all the movement in the last couple of weeks has been toward Republican candidates. He’ll tell us where Republicans are making inroads, and where the Democrats’ chances have improved.

Early Screening, Intervention Can Help Children With Mental Illnesses

Some mental healthcare professionals are now urging people to screen children, as young as 13, to see if they’re genetically predisposed to have psychotic episodes. Doctors say that information will let people know about possible triggers and symptoms to look out for. Doctors believe early intervention could then lessen the effects of mental illness. We speak with Corinne Cather, a clinical psychologist at the First Episode and Early Psychosis Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Sumo Wrestling Grapples With Gangsters In Japan

Sumo wrestlers Tosayutaka, right, and Toyohibiki fall to the dirt during their bout in the grand summer tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena on Sunday May 9, 2010. (AP)

Sumo wrestlers Tosayutaka, right, and Toyohibiki fall to the dirt during their bout in the grand summer tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan sumo arena. (AP)

If Japanese sumo wresters told you to keep your distance, you’d probably be well advised to do as they suggested. But whether Japan’s notorious gang members, known as yakuza, will listen to them remains to be seen. The Sumo Association says it’s determined to cut all ties between the sport and organized crime, as it tries to restore its reputation after a scandal over illegal betting by wrestlers. The BBC’s Roland Buerk reports from Tokyo.

Adrian Grenier Turns Camera On A ‘Teenage Paparazzo’

Adrian Grenier in the WBUR studios in Boston. (Kevin Sullivan/WBUR.)

Adrian Grenier in Here & Now's studio at WBUR in Boston. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

In the HBO series, “Entourage,” Adrian Grenier gets stalked by the paparazzi as Vincent Chase, a successful and famous movie star. Now, Grenier turns the cameras on the paparazzi in his new documentary, “Teenage Paparazzo.” He gets access to the world of the celebrity photographers by profiling 13-year-old Austin Visschedykl, who cruises around Hollywood on his bike or skateboard, tracking celebrities into the wee hours of the morning. Through the film, Grenier examines celebrity, why people are obsessed with it and how paparazzi and the stars they follow form a symbiotic bond.

Music From The Show

  • Christian McBride, “Theme for Kareem”
  • Radiohead, “Myxamatosis”
  • Ken Vandermark, “New Acrylic”
  • Fred Hersch, “Desafinado”
  • Steve Earle, “Transcendental Blues”
  • The TV Theme Players, “Entourage”
  • Lady GaGa, “Paparazzi”
  • Mary-Anne

    How much of the symptoms that look like Psychosis in college students can be explained by lack of sufficient sleep?

  • Chrissie Kaufmann

    I just sent this by email, too -
    My mother has schizophrenia and has since I was a child, and I have seen her deteriorate over the years. I have three children ages 10, 7, and 5. WHat is the statistical probability they will have psychosis and/or schizophrenia? What can I do?
    THank you,
    Chrissie Kaufmann
    Winston-Salem, NC

  • http://thepracticalhumanist.blogspot.com Paul Creeden

    Bravo, WBUR and NPR! ‘Morning Edition’ had a health education segment on preventative dentistry and ‘Here And Now’ has this great segment on psychosis prevention. This sounds more like the Public Radio I have valued in the past. Politics and book promotion segments are interesting too, but I am very pleased to hear some educational content about human health and well being. Maybe some Tea Party folks will learn that health problems are very complex and actually require health care.

  • Leslie Kausch, Greensboro, NC

    I have read more recent research that indicated that many, if not most, mental illnesses that DON’T include paranoid features seem to have a natural course and resolve, or go away, on their own. This research indicates that when we start people w/mental illnesses on psychotropic meds, these seem to freeze the illness and prevent them from resolving on their own. This research has more difficulty gaining funding b/c it’s doesn’t support use of meds, but, as a therapist, I found it interesting. Perhaps we need a new paradigm to look at these issues.

  • http://costae2d@live.com Naomi Costa

    I have a son whom after I had him I went to his biological fathers house in Italy to visit him where I found out he has schizophrenia bi-polar disorder, and so did his mother. I did not know it because he was being treated when I first met him and his english was limited. I love my son and he is my world and he is here today through a young summer romance in europe, but sometimes I fear that one day he will get the same thing because my understanding is it is hereditary. He is 3 now and I am often looking for symptoms but dont see anything, but honestly I dont really know what to look for. Please help me understand what I should know in order to best help my little angel.
    Naomi Costa

  • Frog

    I’m trying to figure out what is more disturbing…Adrian Grenier thinking that paparazzi is some kind of “artform” or the picture of the Sumo wrestlers…

  • Frog

    …okay the Sumo wrestlers.

  • Anna M. Miller

    Hello listeners,
    My name is Anna Miller. I am an intern at Here and Now.

    I just wanted to let listeners know that Corinne Cather will be jumping into this conversation tomorrow. The clinical psychologist has kindly agreed to respond to your questions regarding screening, intervention, and treatment of young people with mental illnesses. Please post any additional questions right here on this website.

  • Frog

    Question for Dr. Cather: Concerning mental illness screening…Just wondering what the doctor thinks of the home DNA tests (like 23andme.com)…whether they are reliable and useful? I know they can check for susceptiblitiy to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.

  • Jocelyn Hernandez

    Wonderful segment on mental health today! Keep it up. More knowledge equals less fear.

  • Check Facts

    Genetic basis for psychosis. Why did you do this program?

    “There ARE NOT genetic tests” says guest.

    Cannot point to a gene, has to do with gene expression. Whether or not a gene is turned on.

    As your own guest’s comments add up – as she is pushing the genetic angle – this is all BUNK.

    Guest was EXTREMELY vague. Get away from the NAMI angle.

    Bring back moral psychiatry. Today’s is the most immoral profession ever.

    Mitigation? Treatment?

    Goal, intervene within weeks. And what do we do? Ah, yes. Anti psychotics. Ah yes. WRONG.

    Used to be these great houses Soteria. Psychiatry put them out of business.

    This is a pretty bad interview so far. The interviewer glossed over a lot.

    RECOMMEND: Take These Broken Wings. Just cut to the chase and watch that. Don’t listen to NAMI funded NIMH. All research is drug and psychopharmacology based.

  • Check Facts

    My question for the follow up interview today is:

    If there is such a thing as genetic screening, what is it? Is it a brain scan?

    And since you treat this supposedly chemical based disease with chemicals, you must test, right? to know that you have this biochemically based disease. What is that test?

  • Frog

    Apparently there is some evidence of a genetic link to mental illness. I would appreciate the doctors opinion.

    “Strong evidence that GNB1L is associated with schizophrenia.”


    “Evidence that a gene or genes on chromosome 22 is involved in susceptibility to schizophrenia comes from…..”

  • Cori Cather

    If severe enough, sleep deprivation and other forms of extreme stress (e.g., sensory deprivation, trauma) can induce psychotic symptoms in most people. This is actually one of the key points cognitive behavioral therapists educate individuals and family about with the goal of “normalizing” psychotic sympotms. In this case “normalization” refers to making the point that the “normal” brain is capable of experiencing psychotic symptoms, such as misperceiving one’s name being called. Psychotic symptoms that are distressing, frequent, and persist once there is restful sleep would warrant treatment.

    The risk of having schizophrenia when a first degree relative (parent or sibling) has schizophrenia is approximately 10%. The risk when both parents have schizophrenia is approximately 40%.

    There is no evidence to support the use of any diagnostic tests–such as blood tests, brain scans, or genetic tests to diagnose a schizophrenia spectrum disorder. It is a diagnosis made by clinical interview and it is only as good as the data that is being given to the mental health practitioner who is conducting the interview as well as that practitioner’s interviewing skill and knowledge base about schizophrenia. It is certainly possible to miss the presence of a psychotic symptom or to miss a schizpohrenia diagnosis. Many patients and families have had this experience.

    Soteria is an area of interest for the field. This treatment model involves intensive early psychosocial (non-drug therapy) intervention with early psychotic symptoms. Antipsychotic medication is not initiated and there–fairly intensive thearpy is delivered and it is to determine whether the symptoms will remit on their own. It is important to note that these patients are not simply left alone without intervention. In some of these cases the psychosis does succesfully remit without antipsychotic medication.

    Important to also see the reality that despite their very real drawbacks, antipsychotics can also be livesaving.

  • Check Facts

    I will need to listen to today’s show. But I’d just like others reading this to know that alternatives are out there. Unfortunately they almost all require that the patient and/or patient advocate do an enormous amount of legwork on their own. This includes reading books – checking them out from the library if you are like most people on a budget. Robert Whitaker, Peter Breggin, and the author of “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” for starters. The psycho-pharmacologists want to fill you with despair and talk about stigma, then they say things like anti psychotics save lives. Look up Jonathon Cole’s essay and work on anti depressants and their evolution.

    Do work: look up Soteria houses and what the psych industry has done to undermine those and similar efforts. They lobbied the NIMH to stop giving them money. There is now no money available to non drug psychiatric alternatives. IT IS ALL DRUGS ALL THE TIME.

    I’m sure this woman is very nice, and I’d love to meet her in the market some time, and I’d be happy if she took the parking space ahead of me. All fine and good. But always question those who push drugs. There are alternatives – even non psychotherapy alternatives. The proof is out there.

    Easy way to start on the self-education is to buy (can’t rent it; I’ve tried) Take These Broken Wings by a social worker in NYC.

    From an interview with Robert Whitaker:

    “In the late 1970s, Jonathan Cole — the father of American psychopharmacology — wrote a paper called “Is the Cure Worse Than the Disease?” {AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET} that signaled that antipsychotics weren’t the lifesaving drugs that people had hoped. In it, he reviewed all of the long-term harm the drugs could cause and observed that studies had shown that at least 50 percent of all schizophrenia patients could fare well without the drugs. He wrote, “Every schizophrenic outpatient maintained on antipsychotic medication should have the benefit of an adequate trial without drugs.” This would save many from the dangers of tardive dyskinesia — involuntary body movements — as well as the financial and social burdens of prolonged drug therapy. The title of the paper poignantly sums up the awful long-term paradox.”

    Recovery is hard, difficult work. It takes time. There are no magic pills. Life can be hard. Let’s get to work.

  • Mary Fjerstad

    My son developed severe depression when he was 16, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that he was somewhat depressed/ not easily soothed/ anxious way back into his childhood. My husband’s brother has schizophrenia. My son’s illness was evolving so quickly at age 16, the doctors didn’t know what the diagnosis really was. Eventually it became clear he had schizophrenia. He was put on many medicines which did not treat the symptoms well and had many side effects. I’m a nurse practitioner and I became a warrior/advocate for my son. I eventually insisted that he be titrated off his old medications and be titrated on a new anti-psychotic. The new medicine was a biochemical bulls-eye. About mid-way through the titration, his world changed from black and white to color. When he was so sick, it was if he was buried alive- his soul felt dead. I prayed to have my real son back, if even for an hour. My prayers were more than answered and my son was restored. He has not had a psychotic break or been hospitalized since starting the new medication. He is very diligent about taking his medicines because he feels an inner agitation when he misses then for even a day (they have a short half-life). He lives independently and works full-time. He does receive considerable emotional support from us and he needs help managing his money and understanding the long-term consequences of decisions. He definitely needed our help with job rehabilitation, qualifying for SSI and housing assistance.

  • Erika

    I would have qualified for this program as a teen, no question. Would it have helped me? I doubt it.

    At sixteen I had my first manic mixed state. It was not obvious to anyone that this was mania, it was a combination of emotional turmoil and vague psychotic symptoms. The vague psychotic symptoms would have got me caught in your net, if I were screened, and answered honestly. And then what? I would have been put on antipsychotics. I would have gained massive amounts weight at a time when that would have made my social life difficult (I know I would have, warnings or no: I have been on those drugs.) I would have been in a fog when taking the SATs and AP classes (I have taken classes while on and off the drugs, the difference is phenomenal). My mental state would have been closely monitored. I would have been further patient-ized and more firmly placed as the center of my family’s problems. According to the program, my parents might have been discouraged from sending me to college, or at least from sending me away from home. I might have received the label “schizophrenia” instead of the more accurate and somewhat less stigmatizing “bipolar”. I might have found myself marginalized at the start of my adult life. I might have become a career mental patient.

    In real life, I was treated briefly for “depression”, and then left alone. I went to college (and never missed home, not for a minute), got married, got a job. My adult life has been punctuated by a few brief episodes of mania and depression. They are a big deal, and not a big deal. There was no chance, for me as a teenager, of a slide into permanent disability. Not if I was left alone.

  • Check Facts

    I too suffered from depression as a just-post-teenager. I had to return from college. I sat around for nearly a year, unable to do much. I thank God anti-depressants were not an option for me, for whatever reason. I think in those days they were reserved for particularly strong cases. I was debilitated alright, but I just had to get through it until I found what worked for me. I’m not talking about chemicals, but rather about options. Maybe stay at home and go to college locally. Maybe flounder about in college till I find which major really clicks. Maybe find a good therapist. Maybe exercise more. Maybe stop drinking even socially. Maybe becoming financially independent (that happened eventually). It’s about opening doors and finding other possibilities. It’s about discovering what power we have within ourselves. As one of the characters says in Take These Broken Wings, without drugs she know that SHE helped herself. She did it. Nothing else did. Nothing can be more empowering than that.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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