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mental health mondays :: the angry edition

i usually try to keep to subjects that i think will be of practical use to people when it comes to mhm. i do this because i don't want to be write a pop psychology column every week and the fact is that commentary on popular events isn't much use to anyone. there is enough disposable chatter in the world [and a lot of it on this blog, lest you think i'm talking down], i'd like to contribute something that might be helpful. in fact, i'd even started a piece for this week about physical anomalies in the brains of people with mental disorders that *might* offer clues as to the biological factors at work, which i thought i could make quite accessible.

unfortunately, i, like a lot of comedians and the entire u.s. government, have been distracted this week by the tale of congressman anthony weiner's wiener. it seems like this is the story that keeps on giving, with new photos turning up every day and calls for his resignation growing louder than a stadium full of air horns. the man himself has been quiet for a day or so [it seems like a long time only because there have been yet more photo revelations] after announcing he would take a leave of absence "to seek professional treatment to focus on becoming a better husband and healthier person".

and i must say, with all the things that this guy has done to make himself out to be a complete arsehole, as thoroughly unsympathetic as he has made himself appear nothing he has done actually made me angry [although there was a lot of eye-rolling] until i read that last statement. and it comes down to one word: treatment.

i'm not sure exactly what treatment he is seeking, but unless he did actually hook up with an internet squeeze and walk away with something that left his infamous member less than photogenic, treatment is not what this man needs. counseling, perhaps, since having someone to talk to is always helpful, but treatment implies that you have a disease or condition that requires some course of professional intervention. unless they've recently isolated a virus that spreads douchebaggery, you should not be wasting a doctor's time.

i'd brush this off as the latest bit of stupidity in a really, really stupid story, except that the idea that every time someone tried to cover up bad behaviour by crying that they have a disease, someone who legitimately needs psychological assistance becomes too embarrassed to ask for help. and that makes me angry.

it makes me angry because no one should act as if needing psychiatric treatment is a "get out of jail free card" for reprobate actions.

it makes me angry because making up a mental disorder to cover for your actions trivialises these disorders as a group.

it makes me angry because "treatment" for any type of mental disorder should not be directed at making one a better person, but at allowing one to function day to day.

it makes me angry because these cases of "celebrities" [is there anyone who seriously thinks that anthony weiner was doing any work at all in the last three weeks?] get a lot more press than real cases.

it makes me angry because it subtly reinforces the idea that people with disordered thinking are automatically prone to socially unnacceptable behaviour. [note :: in this case, i'm referring to the cheating on your wife and lying parts of his behaviour. i'm not judging him for his actions beyond that.]

it makes me angry because the resources that weiner will be taking up in his attempt to pass his irresponsibility off as something more profound than it really is could be used to help someone who actually needs it.

that's it for this week. next week, back on track, no excuses.


as long as you're here, why not read more?

mental health mondays :: where even the depressed ones are happy

this past week saw the publication of the annual world happiness report, a look at nations around the world and how people in each of them feel about their lot in life. i started following this a few years ago, and this year it occurred to me that it would be fun to look at how the happy places compared to the crazy places. i mean, what if those countries aren't really all that happy, but just have an extremely high rate of psychotic/ delusional disorders?

so, i set to work putting together a comparison. as it happens, that's a bit trickier than it sounds, because information on any kind of disability is more difficult to come by than you might think. and no type of disability is more controversial than a mental illness, which means that there are even more complications around definitions, seeking treatment, prognoses, record-keeping... it's hard to tell how reliable anything you're looking at is. [not that there aren't some good sources.]

and what sources there …


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: a lip for all seasons [summer edition]

this may seem like an odd time to think about summer, but not to think about coolness. it can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that summer is considered "cool" in colour analysis terms and, in my opinion, reads as the coolest of the cool, because everything in it is touched with the same chilly grey. winter may have the coldest colours, but its palette is so vivid that it distracts the eye. everything in summer is fresh and misty, like the morning sky before the sun breaks through. in my original post on the season, i compared it to monet's paintings of waterlilies at his garden in giverny and, if i do say so, i think that's an apt characterisation.

finding lip colours touched with summer grey and blue is, as you might expect, kind of tricky. the cosmetic world seems obsessed with bringing warmth, which doesn't recognise that some complexions don't support it well. [also, different complexions support different kinds of warmth, but that's another…