Review of _Century of the Self_ (BBC documentary)

Edward Bernays (1891-1995)

It may have been a patient (I can’t recall) who suggested I search online for the 2002 BBC documentary by Adam Curtis called Century of the Self. It turns out the video is freely available at several sites; the full four-hour documentary can be viewed or downloaded here, or each of […]

How to promote nonviolence — (2) Necessary elements

In my last post, I outlined the fundamental problem facing advocates of nonviolence: Despite nearly universal conceptual agreement with this goal, human psychology conspires to make peace elusive and strife apparently unavoidable. Our emotions trump our rationality, biasing assessments of real-world evidence and leading to post-hoc justification of whatever our “gut” feels. Unfortunately, and rightly […]

How to promote nonviolence — (1) The problem

Prompted by the Sandy Hook shootings and Boston Marathon bombings, a bumper crop of articles about our violent society has sprouted in recent weeks. I was particularly drawn to this opinion piece in the New York Times. Author Todd May, a Clemson University professor of Humanities, articulates well the crucial underpinning of a nonviolent world […]

Narcissists, psychopaths, and other bad guys

A patient of mine recently observed that the increasing use of the the term “psychopath” in popular media is really a disguised way of criticizing selfishness. Dressing up selfishness as an odd and frightening clinical disorder — slapping a diagnostic label on it — makes for catchy news copy, and grants pundits emotional distance between […]

On responsibility

I’ll leave the “sloppy thinking” series for now, although I expect to return to it in the future. In this post I’ll share some thoughts about personal responsibility, especially as it pertains to the insanity defense. It’s a topic much in the news lately, due to tragic actions by now-household names such as James Eagan […]

Jury duty, a psychiatric perspective

I just finished a day of jury service in criminal court, and have some thoughts about the whole process. Some relate to me as a psychiatrist, some are more generic. I’ll start by admitting I’ve never served as a juror in an actual trial. Doing so would interest me, and I do appreciate the role […]

The commodification of psychiatry

Several recent articles, blogs, and even my participation in HealthTap (discussed in my last two posts) have led me to think about how psychiatry, and mental health treatment generally, are increasingly viewed as commodities. In the language of economics, a commodity is a physical good, such as food, grain, or metal, which is interchangeable with […]