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 […]

Loss of privacy and the new psychic numbing

I grew up in the era of the nuclear arms standoff. Thousands of warheads on land, at sea, and in planes stood ready to obliterate most of the human race if the Soviets, Americans, or a rogue third nation launched a nuclear “first strike.” Authors of that era wrote of the psychological effects of living […]

Online commentary: marketplace of ideas or shouting match?

A central disruptive technology of our online world is the breaking down of unidirectional communication. In years past, newspapers and other media published articles without immediate feedback from readers. True, a few readers might telephone the editor’s desk, and the paper might print a select handful of “letters to the editor” in the next issue. […]

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 […]

The APA annual meeting: a photo essay

As posted previously, last month I attended the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) annual conference. Straying from my usual format, I thought I’d post pictures from the meeting and, of course, offer comments. The meeting took place in Moscone Center, a conference center complex located just south of Market Street in downtown San Francisco. Depicted here […]

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 […]

Movie review: "Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare"

The independent documentary Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke is a thoughtful indictment of the status quo. Instead of focusing on political polarization, the pros and cons of Obamacare for instance, the film mainly documents the absurdity and waste of what we have now. Instead of a […]