Archive for October, 2007

I store interesting things up for when I have time to post, but I’m too jaded today to do anything but criticize them.

Finding a single gene causing schizophrenia? May be being misunderstood by the science writer – people have been looking for years and years for a (meaning one single) gene that causes bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc., and it’s much more likely that multiple genes are in play. And the body of the article doesn’t talk about a single gene, just the leader into the article.
ADD is not overdiagnosed. They define “overdiagnosed” as the number of people mistakenly diagnosed with ADD exceeding the number of people who have ADD but no diagnosis. While evidence does suggest it’s underdiagnosed much more often than overdiagnosed, by this definition you could misdiagnose the entire population of several countries with ADD, while failing to diagnose the population of substantially more (let’s say 10) countries with ADD (and failing to diagnose anyone properly at all). I think a lot of people would still be justifiably concerned with overdiagnosis, were that the case. (And I think that’s what a lot of people are thinking of when they mean “overdiagnosis” – how many people don’t have ADD and get diagnosed with it.)

Cardiovascular disease, not suicide, is the #1 killer of the mentally ill. That sounds pretty counterintuitive until you realize that cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer in the U.S. Although I don’t want to minimize the damage caused by cardiovascular disease, the appropriate comparison here is the ratio of mentally ill with cardiovascular disease to the general population with cardiovascular disease, versus the mentally ill/non-mentally ill ratio for suicide.

Losing 25 to 30 years of life (on average) compared to the general population is still pretty scary, though. I’m not jaded about that. I would think it might be better in countries that don’t require you to have a job with benefits to get good medical insurance, rather than the crappy jobs that many people with severe mental illness get, if they’re able to hold one down at all. But I don’t know that.

An article on OCD discusses what disorders are related enough to group together.
OCD in some respects differs from the other anxiety disorders in terms of phenomenology, brain circuitry, family history, and treatment response. Instead, it shares features of basic etiology, brain circuitry, and genetics with a group of other related or OCD spectrum disorders. These may include Tourette’s syndrome; body dysmorphic disorder; autism and the developmental disorders; eating disorders, including binge-eating disorder; Huntington’s disorder and Parkinson’s disorder; pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS) or Sydenham’s chorea; some of the impulse control disorders; some of the newly emerging compulsive and impulsive disorders; and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. At issue for the DSM-V is also whether the hoarders that are currently considered a subtype of OCD should be thought of as distinct from OCD and placed into one of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders.

It’s from 2005, but this is the first time I’ve run into spectrum notions that weren’t bipolar or autism-related.

I wish there were some way of sitting in on DSM-V committee meetings.  I’d love to watch the process by which people attempt to arrive at a working compromise on What Things Are.

Psych Central has developed a test purporting to give you a sanity score, with useful-looking subscores.  There is some actual science behind this, which looks pretty reasonable – they’re doing the standard appropriate things you do with tests, like make sure the questions you mean to measure the same thing are all measuring the same thing, and are similar to questions from other tests that have been shown to measure what they mean to measure reasonably well.

It looks like their plan is get lots of people so that they can estimate for any given person where they lie in comparison to the rest of the population.  Note that this is not the same thing as the DSM, which gives criteria by which to diagnose people.

It’s still in beta, meaning that they don’t have a big enough sample to be comfortable with their numbers yet.  Also, although they don’t mention this, keep in mind that it’s a test that people who are curious about how sane they are will opt to take, and not a test that your average joe will necessarily be interested in.  So, on average, they may have people who are less sane than the general population.   If that’s true, then people who take it will look saner than they would compared to the average joe.

I got a 47 of 288, which they say is “good mental health” – somewhat saner than I was expecting.

It reminds me of an Ursula Le Guin short story (“SQ,” in the collection The Compass Rose) about a  sanity quotient test.  Everyone over 50 got committed, which meant eventually everyone in the entire world, except for the narrator.

And that reminds me of the part from one of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy novels where a character has built a sanitarium to enclose the entire world.

Although I don’t think either of those relate to this – it sounds more likely to say that people saner than they are, than to say that people are crazier than they are.