Category: Neuroscience/Mental Health

Involuntary Treatment – Civil Rights or Civil Wrongs?

In the 1950s, 558,000 people were in mental institutions in the U.S. Many were there against their will and were being warehoused or treated badly. Deinstitutionalization was intended to restore their civil rights and improve their lot. Did it? By 2006, there were only 40,000 people in institutions. What happened to the other 518,000? Some of them are living in the community...

/ March 24, 2009

Train Your Brain

I’m a big fan of video games, puzzles, and brain teasers. So the notion that so-called “brain training” games can help improve mental function and stave off dementia has some appeal to me. It also makes a certain amount of sense – exercise your brain and its function will improve. And yet, as a skeptic, I have always been bothered by the...

/ February 25, 2009

Psychiatry-Bashing

Psychiatry is arguably the least science-based of the medical specialties. Because of that, it comes in for a lot of criticism. Some of the criticism is justified, but too many critics make the mistake of dismissing even the possibility that psychiatry could be scientific, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

/ January 27, 2009

The Alleged Autism Epidemic

It is without controversy that the number of autism diagnoses being made is on the rise. In 1991 there were about 6 cases per 10,000 births, and in 2001 there were about 42. This number continues to rise at about the same rate. The cause of this rise, however, is very controversial. There are basically two schools of thought: 1 – that...

/ January 14, 2009

Dr. Jay Gordon – “Anti-Vaccination”

Dr. Jay Gordon is a pediatrician and one of the stars of the anti-vaccinationist movement. (Dr. Gorski wrote an exellent criticism of many of his claims recently on SBM.) He is, in fact, the pediatrician to Jenny McCarthy’s son, Evan (who she claims was injured by vaccines). Several months ago he published an “open letter on vaccinations” which is now making the...

/ December 3, 2008

Bee Venom Therapy – Grassroots Medicine

Pat Wagner (or “The Bee Lady,” as she likes to be called) treats herself for multiple sclerosis (MS) by allowing bees to sting her. She calls this bee-venom therapy (BVT) and believes it has saved her from MS. There are now thousands of people who administer BVT to themselves or others, mostly in private homes by unlicensed practitioners. BVT is not prescribed...

/ November 26, 2008

Rainman – Link Between Precipitation and Autism

A new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows a positive correlation between counties in California, Oregon, and Washington with greater precipitation and a higher incidence of autism. While the results of this study are interesting, it needs to be put into proper context. Also of note, the authors had presented early results from this data previously. Correlation...

/ November 5, 2008

Dr. Jay Gordon and me: Random encounters with an apologist for the antivaccine movement

Although he doesn’t detest me nearly as much as antivaccine honcho and founder of Generation Rescue J. B. Handley does, Santa Monica celebrity pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon doesn’t like me very much at all. Actually, I’m not sure whether that’s entirely true or not, but Dr. Gordon sure doesn’t like it when I criticize him for his antivaccine rhetoric. He affects an...

/ October 20, 2008

Is there no end to unscientific treatments for autism?

OK, it’s true that I’m only scheduled to post every other week or so, but I couldn’t resist sharing this one with you (which I’ve cross-posted over at denialism blog).  I promise to get back to my assigned schedule after this one.  Thanks for your indulgence.  –PalMD If you’ve been a regular reader of SBM or denialism blog, you know that plausibility...

/ October 14, 2008

Autism’s false prophets revealed

Dr. Paul Offit has written a book about the false prophets of autism, those who promote the idea that vaccines cause autism and those who sell quackery to treat autism, which are often the same people. If you want a good history of how the "vaccines cause autism" myth started, this is a great primer.

/ September 29, 2008