Diagnosing Donald Trump

On January 31, 2017, the Psychology Today editorial staff published a well-balanced summary of the debate over whether to declare President Trump mentally ill. While the debate focuses on mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists who are credentialed to make such diagnoses, the question clearly goes further. Public commentary following this and other […]

Christmas 2016, a fable

No one recalled when Rudy joined the teamsters, it may have been several seasons back. Awkward and quiet, he mostly kept to himself. The other guys avoided Rudy. No one ever asked him to join their casual poker games, no one ever invited him to hang out after work. He wasn’t harassed exactly, but their […]

Prescription drug abuse and the physician gatekeeper

Opioid painkillers such as Vicodin (hydrocodone) and OxyContin (oxycodone) are crucial medical tools that are addictive and widely abused. Tranquilizers and sleeping pills of the benzodiazepine class, e.g., Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam), are safe and effective in limited, short-term use, but are often taken too freely, leading to drug tolerance and withdrawal […]

Parenting medical disruptors

Popularized telemedicine — that is, teleconferencing with a physician over one’s smartphone — worries many critics because it assumes patients can be evaluated without a physical exam. The critics are right that those with a financial interest in “disrupting” health care typically minimize the trade-offs. Convenience and lower cost are trumpeted, while risks of misdiagnosis […]

Between medical paternalism and servility

Even today there are patients who leave diagnosis and treatment entirely to their doctors. They make no effort to inform themselves about their illness or chart their own course; they do whatever their doctors advise. Once the norm, this passive, willfully naive attitude has withered in the face of a multigenerational attitude shift, coupled with […]

OpenNotes: Good intentions gone awry

OpenNotes is “a national initiative working to give patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians.” According to their website, three million patients now have such access, generally online. Participating institutions include the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, Penn State Hershey Medical Group, […]

Military brain-chips to cure psychiatric disorders?

Sounding like something straight out of science fiction, DARPA recently announced grants to fund research and development of implantable brain-stimulation chips aimed to relieve, or even cure, mental disorders. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency thinks big, and it has the money, i.e., our tax dollars, to back it up. Decades ago, DARPA brought us […]