1888 description of insanity

The description, by Mary Putnam Jacobi, perfectly matches bipolar. She is discussing what kinds of people develop mental illnesses.

The psychic characteristics… The disposition is strikingly irritable and touchy; psychic pain arises for trifling cause; at the least occasion the most vivid emotions are excited. The subjects of this temperament alternate rapidly from one extreme to the other; their sympathies and antipathies alike are intense; their entire life is passed between periods of exaltation and depression, leaving scarcely any room for healthy indifference. (184)

from Essays on Hysteria, Brain-tumor, and Some Other Cases of Nervous Disease.

Of course, then she goes on to describe the savant and other mental illnesses, all under the same heading… So while it is accurate, it isn’t a useful description because it includes too many other descriptions.

I like trees, but there are limits.

I don’t want one growing in my lungs, like this guy had.

As Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper found out, he often had chest pains, and was coughing up blood.

An X-Ray showed a new growth in his lung, and doctors were certain it was a cancerous one.

Fortunately, when they dissected Artyom’s chest, it was decided to cut out a small piece first, and to carry out an express biopsy test. The doctor made an incision in the lung and saw… a fir tree.

Get skinny fast

An extract derived from a West African fruit may help overweight people shed pounds and lower their cholesterol, a new study suggests.

The extract comes from Irvingia gabonensis, also known as African mango, a fruit commonly eaten in West Africa. Lab research has shown that extracts from the plant’s seed may inhibit body fat production, through effects on certain genes and enzymes that regulate metabolism.

For the current study, researchers at the University of Yaounde in Cameroon randomly assigned 102 overweight adults to take either the plant extract or a placebo twice a day for 10 weeks. The study participants did not follow any special diet and were told to maintain their normal exercise levels.

By the end of the study, the extract group had lost a significant amount of weight — an average of roughly 28 pounds — while the placebo group showed almost no change.

At the same time, they showed declines in “bad” LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

from Reuter’s

Video games are good.

Finally, an EU report that I like.

“Video games are in most cases not dangerous and can even contribute to the development of important skills,” said Toine Manders, the Dutch liberal lawmaker who drafted the report.

“(They stimulate) learning of facts and skills such as strategic reflection, creativity, cooperation and a sense of innovation,” a news release on the report said.

Vitamin D too low?

That’s a problem. It may explain why you are overweight.

Overweight? Part of the problem may be low vitamin D levels, a new study hints.

Among a group of 90 young women living in sunny southern California, those with insufficient levels of vitamin D were significantly heavier and had greater body mass than their counterparts with sufficient levels of vitamin D, Dr. Vicente Gilsanz, of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and colleagues found.

It’s correlatory rather than causal, but still…

Years ago someone got on my case for giving the boys empty calories.

The empty calories they were specifically discussing were juice.

Turns out that apple juice can help stave off Alzheimers.

Reuters Health said:

Drinking apple juice helps slow the accumulation of the protein fragments that damage the brain in Alzheimer’s disease, new research in mice shows.

The protein fragments, known as beta-amyloid, are the building blocks of the plaques that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings don’t suggest that Alzheimer’s disease can be treated by gulping gallons of apple juice, but they do point to the importance of long-term nutrition in preventing aging-related changes like those seen in Alzheimer’s disease, Thomas B. Shea of the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, the co-author of the current study, said in an interview with Reuters Health.

Hospitals are broken.

Microbiologybytes on infection control in hospitals.

Errors are compounded by a totemic belief in the miracle properties of alcohol hand rubs which adorn every bed but which distract from more effective handwashing procedures. Did I need to be visited by the person flitting from ward to ward to fiddle with the TV/radio/phone console above every bed? Even if they did spend several seconds squirting alcohol gel on their hands before moving on to the next patient? I don’t think so.

New York Times has an article on ICU (since my dad just got out, I noticed) and how they are problematic, since they sedate their patients and don’t get them up.

Nonsense verse on bipolar

When you’re up, you’re up.

And when you’re down, you’re down.

But when you’re only halfway up, you’re neither up nor down.

mental illness


Reuter’s Health had a post:

“Adults with a sibling who’s suffered from a mental disorder may themselves be at risk of depression, a new study suggests.”

Er, duh.

If you have a major issue in your life, one that involves someone you love, one that is ongoing, then you are more likely to have depression. Did they have to study that to see it?

Eat more protein to burn more fat.

Higher-protein meals may help overweight and obese people burn more fat, the results of a small study suggest.

Research has shown that overweight people are less efficient at burning fat after a meal than thinner people are. In the new study, Australian researchers looked at whether the protein composition of a meal affects that weight-related gap.

They found that overweight men and women burned more post-meal fat when they ate a high-protein breakfast and lunch than when they had lower-protein meals. That is, the added protein seemed to modify the fat-burning deficit seen in heavy individuals.

from Reuter’s

Listen to some good music.

According to Reuter’s,
“Songs that make our hearts soar can make them stronger too, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday. They found that when people listened to their favorite music, their blood vessels dilated in much the same way as when laughing or taking blood medications.”


Intense exercise is best for whittling down fat.

The study, which followed 27 middle-aged obese women, found that those who exercised at a high intensity for four months successfully shed fat from their midsections. Women who exercised at a low intensity, however, showed no such changes in body fat.

The findings suggest that for people who want to change their body composition, the intensity of the exercise is matters, researchers report in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Strength training helps ease arthritis pain in the knees.

Trauma- or age-related osteoarthritis of the knee results in progressive and often painful fraying and breakdown of cartilage. However, studies indicate that the leg muscle weakness commonly associated with knee osteoarthritis is potentially modifiable by resistance training, Angela K. Lange and colleagues report in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism.

In up to 75 percent of the studies, the researchers identified clinically meaningful improvements in physical function and strength among resistance training, compared with usual care, participants.

These findings support the efficacy of resistance training in many patients with knee osteoarthritis, Lange and colleagues note.

Tai chi helps cut pain of arthritis in knees.

n their study, one group of people in their 60s with severe knee osteoarthritis performed tai chi for an hour twice a week for 12 weeks while a similar group did the same amount of conventional stretching exercises over the same period.

Those who did tai chi experienced greater pain reduction, less depression and improvements in physical function and overall health, researchers led by Dr. Chenchen Wang of Tufts Medical Center in Boston reported at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco.

Need more Vitamin D.

Maybe these are why my doctor said I need more Vitamin D.

Science Daily says

In a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Norman identifies vitamin D’s potential for contributions to good health in the adaptive and innate immune systems, the secretion and regulation of insulin by the pancreas, the heart and blood pressure regulation, muscle strength and brain activity. In addition, access to adequate amounts of vitamin D is believed to be beneficial towards reducing the risk of cancer. Norman also lists 36 organ tissues in the body whose cells respond biologically to vitamin D. The list includes bone marrow, breast, colon, intestine, kidney, lung, prostate, retina, skin, stomach and the uterus. According to Norman, deficiency of vitamin D can impact all 36 organs. Already, vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle strength decrease, high risk for falls, and increased risk for colorectal, prostate and breast and other major cancers.

The BBC says insufficient Vitamin D is also linked to chronic pain.

The American Association of Pediatrics doubled its VitD recommendations.

Vitamin D is linked to Parkinson’s; “Scientists found that lower blood levels of the vitamin were more common in people with Parkinson’s than healthy individuals.”

The boys and I need to take more vitamins. At least two a day.

This information brought to you, in part, by Heroes Not Zombies, who got me started.

Alcohol does in fact kill your brain.

I’ve been telling my sons that for years. My mother says I “brainwashed” them. But it turns out, I was telling them true.

Reuter’s has the article.

Total brain volume decreased as alcohol consumption rose, the researchers found, and the relationship was stronger for women. “Alcohol is absorbed more rapidly in women than in men, and in general women are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than men,” the researchers note.


People’s brains are known to shrink with age and the amount of damaged white matter increases, as people get older, the researchers say. And as dementia and cognitive problems progress, white matter lesions grow and the size of the brain declines.

I may have to give up the occasional search for the perfect Strawberry Daquiri. (In a year I usually have two glasses of alcoholic beverages. I am a bit concerned that I not reach my tipping point into alcoholism, like my brother and a sister, and I don’t really like the taste of most alcohol.)

I’m allergic to corn.

I had chips at lunch and popcorn last night after dinner.

This morning I woke up and my hand was so sore, I couldn’t curl my fingers. (It’s some better now.)

I gained two pounds from what I ate, too.

So I now know that it is corn I am allergic to. (Remember I was wondering if it was corn or wheat?) I may have had a bit of wheat yesterday morning, but if I did it was far less than I usually have.

Hope for my mom?

Reuter’s Health (8/4/08) had this to say about women and treatment for mental disorders:

Among women with schizophrenia who are being treated with antipsychotic medications, an estrogen patch can markedly improve their symptoms, results of a clinical trial show.

Many women note a connection between the onset of psychosis symptoms and a major change in their menstrual cycle, including the birth of a child or the beginning of menopause, lead author Dr. Jayashri Kulkarni told Reuters Health.

Furthermore, animal studies have shown that estrogen regulates the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, “the key neurotransmitters in schizophrenia.”

Could this potentially help my mother?

How would we get the doctors to try it?