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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Perceiving dignity for World Mental Health Day

Each year in July, I greet a new group of post-doctoral psychiatric trainees (‘residents,’ ‘registrars’) for a year’s work in our psychiatric outpatient clinic. One of the rewards of being a psychiatric educator is witnessing the professional growth of young clinicians as they mature into seasoned, competent, and humanistic psychiatrists.

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An (in)effective interrogation

In early July, the American Psychological Association (APA) released an independent report detailing collusion between the APA and the Bush Administration on abusive interrogation techniques. The 500 plus page Hoffman report found that a small group of APA officials colluded with counterparts in the Department of Defense (DOD).

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The rise of epigenetics and the demise of nature vs nurture

Epigenetics has been a buzzword in biology for the past several years, as scientific understanding has grown about how genes are expressed. We now know that segments of DNA–genes–can be silenced by chemicals in DNA’s local environment; likewise, genes can be “turned on” in ways that allow populations of cells to churn out proteins at high speed, at sluggish rates, or at any speed in between.

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The music next door

It was midnight and I had just slumped into bed, exhausted after one of my first days on-call as a new intern, and still adjusting to life in a new apartment. As my nagging reflections on the day were just beginning to subside, insistent knocking at my door jolted me back to alertness. Dragging myself out of bed to open the door, I was surprised to see a diminutive elderly lady who appeared quite perturbed.

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Catching up with Courtney McCarroll, Assistant Editor in Psychology

Every so often, we catch up with someone in our offices to learn more about life in publishing, from how editors cultivate a list to how each office’s coffee brews compare. This week, we’re concerned with matters of the mind and a member of our editorial team. Courtney McCarroll is an Assistant Editor in Psychology, and recently celebrated her one-year anniversary of working at Oxford University Press.

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Telemental health: Are we there yet?

An unacceptably large proportion of mentally ill individuals do not receive any care. Reasons vary but include the dearth of providers, the cost of treatment and stigma. Telemental health, which uses digital technology for the remote delivery of mental health services, may help toward finding a solution.

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Mentalizing in groups

‘Mentalizing’ is the new word for making sense of oneself, others, and intersubjective transactions in terms of inner motivations. It can be fast and intuitive (implicit mentalizing), as in most informal and routine interactions, or slow and elaborate (explicit mentalizing), when one steps back to indulge in reflective thinking. “Why did she say that?” The thought is such an integral part of being human that it is most often taken for granted. Yet it is an evolutionary achievement.

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Youth violence

Perhaps one of the most politically unpopular truths about violence is that it is young people who are most vulnerable to it, not the elderly or children, but youth. Global estimates from the World Health Organization are that, each year, 200,000 young people are murdered.

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Patients battle for justice

Is it possible that a disease as impairing as Type II diabetes mellitus, congestive heart failure, Multiple Sclerosis, and end-stage renal disease could be repeatedly belittled and delegitimized by scientists and health care professionals? Tragically, this is the case for a devastating illness affecting over one million Americans, and these patients have been deprived of their basic rights to respect, appropriate diagnosis, and humane treatment.

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Incorporating sex as a biological variable in preclinical research

In the spring of 2015 the National Institutes of Health announced new guidelines for the incorporation of sex as a biological variable in any research they fund. Chromosome compliment (XX for female, XY for male in all mammals), gonadal phenotype, and gamete size define sex as a biological parameter. (In contrast, gender is a human construction based on an individual or society’s perception of sex.)

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Step 5 to end military suicides: Enforce zero tolerance

In June 2015, the results of a new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs were released. The study examined more than 170,000 suicides of adult men and women in 23 states between 2000 and 2010, and concluded that female military veterans kill themselves at a rate that is nearly six times higher than their civilian counterparts.

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Predicting future cognition in preterm children with MRI

In the wake of the development of advanced neonatal intensive medical care, more and more children born very preterm manage to beat the previously tough odds and survive the perils of infections and respiratory distress that are some of the common problems in the group. While this is one of the success stories of modern medicine, long-term follow-up of premature-born pediatric cohorts show that the obstacles don’t cease with the need of intensive medical care.

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Step 4 to end military suicides: Expedite treatment

In 1789, President George Washington said, “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” Judging by this standard, we are failing.

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Step 3 to end military suicides: Reduce stigma

The stigma of mental illness poses a major barrier when it comes to individuals seeking help. As a society, we are much more comfortable admitting physical problems than psychological ones. Nowhere is this more true than in the military, where troops are trained to be tough and not acknowledge any weaknesses.

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Step 2 to end military suicides: Beyond combat exposure

According to a new study of nearly 4 million men and women who served in the military between 2001 and 2007, deploying to a war zone doesn’t increase a service member’s risk of suicide. The study was conducted by the military’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, and its findings would seem to serve the military’s purpose. After all, if no causal connection is found between deployment and suicide, recruitment efforts aren’t affected.

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