Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."



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Comments

realpc

I don't believe in these drugs but that's just an opinion. I think in the long run we will find out they are very damaging.

We know that alcohol, cocaine, heroin, etc., simulate happiness but the withdrawal symptoms are worse than the original depression. How are the new anti-depressants different? Do they result in any kind of dependency?

I just think the question of whether we should enjoy artificial happiness or not is premature. First we have to find out what the unexpected adverse consequences are going to be.

Have there been studies about this? Maybe it takes ten years to see adverse effects.

Anyway, we should not base our decision of whether or not to take them based on whether or not unhappiness is useful. Sometimes it is, but other times we might need a break from it. Unhappiness can motivate, but it can also paralyze.

These drugs will turn out to be very bad, for some reason. That is my prediction based only on my opinion.

I do know an elderly person whose sanity was saved by these drugs, and she has been on them for over ten years. In this case it is defintely worth any possible risk. Bu these drugs should not be prescribed for anyone who is still young and who is not completely insane without them.

Of course, people will keep on taking them until we learn once again that nothing in this life is free.

Charlie (Colorado)

I don't believe in these drugs but that's just an opinion.

Believe in them? Hell, I've seen them!

Seriously, though, being someone who finally overcame his resistance to antidepressants some yers ago, I can tell you there's really something missing in arguments that depend on antidepressants producing "artifician happiness."

What's missing is, frankly, some knowledge of the reality of the drugs. They don't make you artificially happy: if you get really happy on them, you should change to another drug. When they're working, what they do is let you stop being artificially unhappy. So unhappy that, in my case, I spent three weeks in bed, unable to cope with the effort of putting on clothes, followed by months where I could get out of bed but it took three hours to shower and dress because of long stretches of moping.

AND of being a little afraid to drive because of the urge to run into large heavy solid things at great speed.

I finally tried them when one of my medical school friends pointed out that if I was a diabetic, I wouldn't worry that insulin was making me artificially normally glycemic. Most people will take an aspirin without worrying it's making them artificially not in pain.

What's so special about being in unwarranted, senseless emotional agony?

nappy40

I don't take anti-anything drugs, but I wholeheartedly believe that those who need them should do so. I strongly believe in medical/chemical intervention, but for me, I would much rather drink than take Zoloft.

realpc

"Most people will take an aspirin without worrying it's making them artificially not in pain."

I would first try to figure out the cause of the pain. I very seldom take aspirin or any medicine, and I would definitely not take it for ordinary aches.

As I said, I think anti-depressants are ok for anyone who cannot be sane without them. They should not be taken for the ordinary pains of life. My reason is not because pain is good for you (although sometimes it might be). I predict, based on everything I know about health, that these drugs will turn out to be harmful in unexpected ways. They should only be used if absolutely necessary. Of course no one will believe me, but this will be discovered eventually.

I know that the brain is barely understood, although you would never guess that from the arrogance of the medical industry. There are no drugs that correct brain chemistry, because that would depend on knowing much more about the brain than is actually known. Anti-depressants fool the brain in some way, and I have no idea how. I doubt the doctors who prescribe them have any idea either.


amba

Charlie,

You're describing major clinical depression. I don't know anyone who thinks you ought to tough that out. It's a life-threatening disease characterized by extraordinary suffering, and you do whatever you have to do to break the fever. Usually you can't even start to do cognitive-behavioral therapy until the meds get you out of the pit.

The question is, where is that line -- and it's not a line, more of a gray zone -- between illness and what the DSM calls (I think) "adjustment disorder" -- grief or stress or the disorientation of change; and between illness and personality traits like introversion.

amba

Charlie,

You're describing major clinical depression. I don't know anyone who thinks you ought to tough that out. It's a life-threatening disease characterized by extraordinary suffering, and you do whatever you have to do to break the fever. Usually you can't even start to do cognitive-behavioral therapy until the meds get you out of the pit.

The question is, where is that line -- and it's not a line, more of a gray zone -- between illness and what the DSM calls (I think) "adjustment disorder" -- grief or stress or the disorientation of change; and between illness and personality traits like introversion.

eusto

Several points.

First, modern antidepressants/anxiolytics (they are used for both purposes), i.e., SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac, etc. are not habit-forming unlike alcohol, nicotine or older anxiolytics such as Valium. Furthermore, they have been in use for over a decade. So we have a respectable amount of data on them. While one could argue that there could be subtle dependency or negative long-term effects that have gone undetected, we're not talking cocaine here -- rats will not press bars until death to get some prozac, like they will for nicotine.

In general, of course, we should avoid taking drugs if possible, but let us recognize that primitive societies have been using herbal remedies for millenia and that even wild animals sometimes self-medicate. Furthermore, many of our drugs are based on or inspired by herbal compounds. So unless we look deeply askance at either native practices or legal recreational drug use, we should avoid a jaundiced conspiratorial view of these drugs.

***

In fact, for anxiety, I was on SSRIs for a time and I did not experience any relief. I think for most people it is decidedly hyperbolic to assert that SSRIs are botox for the feelings. They just ain't that good. They are not subtle enough for that. In general, they are useful adjuncts for cognitive behavioral therapy. They are "training wheels" to get you calm, or undepressed enough to deal with your problems. If your problems aren't that severe, they probably won't do jack.

On the other hand, I tried a natural remedy for anxiety, after researching it as best I could, Kava, and it turned out a few years later that it can and has caused liver damage and failure! (Not for me; I'm fine.) But my point is, natural does not always mean good, and artificial does not mean bad. The natural stuff does not fall under FDA purview and so it's a decided gamble.

****

In my view, they are probably both under and over-prescribed. Too many people take them that shouldn't take them, and many who should be taking them aren't. I think we need to be very cautious about discouraging those who should be taking them from doing so. Clinical depression, anxiety are actually quite common. We're talking 25-30% of the general population will experience clinical levels at one time or another.

All drugs have risk, but shooting yourself at the depths of depression is decidedly more risky.


****

SSRIs, in fact, have a very low side-effect profile compared to their predecessors, the TCAs (the tri-cyclics). And in fact were developed to have this lower side-effect profile. Common side-effects include sexual dysfunction, nausea, dry mouth, etc. (In fact, one "side-effect" sexual dysfunction -- difficulty reaching orgasm -- is actually sometimes used therapeutically to treat premature ejaculation. And perhaps even to prevent nightime slobbering. So hey, maybe you can be happy, keep your partner happy, and your pillow dry all for the price of one! ;))

***

It's not true that the effects of these drugs are barely understood. Sure, to be on the safe side, don't take 'em if you don't need 'em -- but when you compare the contested and murky potential of serious side-effects of SSRIs to the huge and known "side-effects"
of alcohol or cocaine or cigarettes, we're in very different ballparks. You could spin long tales of the potential woes of these drugs -- and don't get me wrong, these drugs likely have caused some very serious side-effects in some -- especially in children (potential increased suicidality for one!), but let's keep a sense of perspective. We all know that planes are safer than cars, but it's hard to ignore 9-11 in your mind.

Finally, it is wrong to suggest that the mechanism of action of these drugs is unknown. The name itself serotin specific reuptake inhibitors tells you the main deal. They increase the availability of serotin at the synapse. Now, serotin nuclei are located in the raphe nuclei of the brain stem which make synaptic connections all over the brain. The serotin system is referred to as a diffuse modulatory sytem. Meaning it serves to globally enhace or reduce or modulate synaptic effectiveness by virtue of its extensive connections. Furthermore, most serotonin receptors are G-protein mediated receptors, not ionotropic receptors, which again points to long term modulatory effect. Over a period of weeks the brain adjusts the expression of receptors due to the continued presence of the chemical. You can cut open rats brains and verify all this. So, it is false to say that science, or psychiatrists, do not have a clue how they work. They have a pretty good start though it is certainly far from a complete picture.

This is not to sing the praises of SSRIs; in fact, I read an article once that claimed that SSRIs were pure placebos, and I don't doubt the existence of horror stories, but let's aim to keep things in perspective, with the full set of facts in hand.

I apologize in that I probably won't get a chance to check back, but I hope my comments are useful.

Hope all is going swimmingly, amba.

eusto

Anticipating one objection. One may say in response to my description of the serotin system, but why does that effect mood? Well, mood is sort of a general overall state and serotin connections are widespread and modulatory so there's an intuitive connection. And we have some sense of the parts of the brain involved in emotion, so we could do further linkups. But at some point, you reach profound mind-body problems; but just because a scientist can't answer the whole chain of whys posed by children world-wide doesn't mean he or she doesn't have a clue. She's on the path to knowledge.

amba

Awesome and encyclopedic comment, Eusto -- but nighttime slobbering?? Really?

How are you, anyway? Where you been? I guess if you won't get a chance to check back, these questions are futile.

realpc

"So, it is false to say that science, or psychiatrists, do not have a clue how they work."

It is not false. They do not know how the brain works, or how mental states are related to what goes on in the brain. They can observe various things going on, but there is no real understanding.

The reuptake of serotonin is inhibited -- oh, ok, so there is more serotonin around. And why exactly would that decrease subjective feelings of depression?

As for primitive people using herbal remedies -- no, I doubt they used them with the same attidute Americans have about drugs. Their medical knowledge evolved gradually over centuries. And anyway, just because primitive people did something does not guarantee it was sensible. (I suspect they were much more careful and responsible than we are though, but can't prove it.)

The current attitude about drugs is reckless and arrogant.

Charlie (Colorado)

It is not false. They do not know how the brain works, or how mental states are related to what goes on in the brain. They can observe various things going on, but there is no real understanding.

Uh, Real, so what? We don't know how it is that mass causes this gravity force on other masses --- at the bottom level, it's really not well understood, like our two good theories are contradictory --- but that doesn't mean falling isn't predictable.

Charlie (Colorado)

You're describing major clinical depression.

You're not just whistling Dixie.

I don't know anyone who thinks you ought to tough that out.

Sure you do --- I did. For all the sorts of reasons that are being expressed here: I didn't want to depend on a drug; I didn't want to numb myself. Add to that the whole male-role problem: I should be able to tough it out, pull up my socks and get on with life; I'm not depressed, I'm just in a bad mood.

It's a life-threatening disease characterized by extraordinary suffering, and you do whatever you have to do to break the fever. Usually you can't even start to do cognitive-behavioral therapy until the meds get you out of the pit.

And I had four acute episodes before I gave in and tried the drugs, because was resisting.

(Well, to be fair, two of my major acute episodes were before SSRIs were available, so they probably don't count.)

That's one reason I react to things like the notion that it's "just anasthesia" --- how many people are suffering, and how many of them die, because of a misunderstanding of what the drugs do?

It's not even like they prevent emotional pain; when my Siamese died two years ago, I was inconsolable for days. What was different was that I didn't go from days of grief to obsessive feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that last for months.

That's not the real me: that's some sick guy. The real me is what I'm like with 20mg of Prozac.

amba

Your Siamese died??

I am inconsolable.

eusto

Awesome and encyclopedic comment, Eusto -- but nighttime slobbering?? Really?

Well, not entirely sure about the slobbering, note the "perhaps" above, but it sounds correct, but might work best in cases where people are slobbering due to other medications.

Encyclopedic

Sorry about the encylopedic. I know it inhibits reading. But my mind has an encylopedic character to it. I want to cover all bases and pre-emptively refute all objections.

(Which is why your comment is so frustrating, Real! :) I already sketched a reply to all your objections. That's why I write so much. My intent is such that people will say, "The philospher has spoken and no faults can be found. Amen." :) Me so nuts.)

How are you, anyway? Where you been? I guess if you won't get a chance to check back, these questions are futile.

All your prayers shall be answered, my child. ((But not Real's for she has offended me and will suffer my wrath ;))

My spirit sometimes hovers near the comments for a brief time awaiting sacrifices. My secret activities will be to you revealed via our sacred technology of e-mail, o great one.

***

What Charlie said.

***

It is not false.

You're making a very strong statement, Real. I made the very modest claim that scientists do indeed have a clue. Not precisely a claim for total knowledge. Note that I already anticipated and responded to your objection in my second comment. Please read it carefully.

Furthermore, while you're correct that neurobiology is only offering correlational knowledge, it is still knowledge. Is all the neuroscientific data that has been collected then useless in your eyes? Does it offer us no understanding?

And most importantly what would count as understanding in your eyes? This is an important question. Even more precisely, how could a neuroscientist go beyond correlation? Can you conceive of any possible experiment in either mainstream or "alternative" science that would transcend correlation?

You are basically castigating scientists for failing to answer very deep philosophical conundrums -- namely, the mind-body problem. I'm not sure if your question is even answerable. Note that even were we to invoke mystical notions, of which you are fond, such as the emotional body, we would still only find correlations. We could still ask more (like why does the emotional "matter" relate to emotions? and what is precisely emotional about it?) -- and as I alluded to above -- play the child and ask why some more, and then sanctimoniously claim that no deep understanding has been reached. Please note again my second comment. I said, "Scientists are on a path to knowledge."

The reuptake of serotonin is inhibited -- oh, ok, so there is more serotonin around. And why exactly would that decrease subjective feelings of depression?

My second comment sketches a reply, and I'm quite certain that those with more detailed knowledge of the neurophysiology of emotion could posit some early models.

And anyway, just because primitive people did something does not guarantee it was sensible.

You are quite right and I stated as much above. I know I wrote a lot but please read more carefully before going on the attack (I will try to pay you the same courtesy.) I only mentioned it because you have a tendency to commit that fallacy yourself.

(I suspect they were much more careful and responsible than we are though, but can't prove it.)

Um, mystical vision quests and self-flagellations, anyone?

Seriously though, I understand your point and explicitly addressed it in my first comment, namely, that natural doesn't equal good.

The current attitude about drugs is reckless and arrogant.

I would agree that the promotion of drugs by drug companies certainly is venal and borders on the reckless. But do not conflate big pharma's advertising department with the scientific community and psychiatrists. I've studied neuropharm and haven't read any claims of panaceas. If you note, I already advanced a nuanced view that said that in some cases drugs are overprescribed and in others underprescribed. You yourself think that people who need 'em should get 'em. So where do we disagree here?

****

You're the only one making extreme statements here. Again, I specifically disavowed the notion that I was singing the praises of SSRI's and listed my reservations.

***

Jesus, Real, don't be so doctrinaire. The fact that both I and Charlie disagree with you -- we both being fans of eastern philosophy and science (and thus, presumedly, cool duded with an open mind ;))-- speaks volumes. The fact that you dismissed the mainstream position without even having a basic grasp of the facts I listed also speaks volumes. It's called prejudice and bias. If you want to go alternative, you need to be able to integrate the mainstream with the alternative -- not just ignore it. I may be a total jerk, but please please please consider that you may have jumped to conclusions on these issues with only a partial grasp of the facts. I've jumped to conclusions too. It's only human.

[before responding, please also make sure that I haven't already addressed your concerns. I try to write carefully.]

realpc

"The fact that you dismissed the mainstream position without even having a basic grasp of the facts I listed"

That is NOT true. How can you assume I didn't know all the stuff you listed? You aren't the only educated person here. Inhibiting reuptake of serotonin means more serotonin is around, period. Adding more words doesn't make it more scientific.

I do NOT just mean the big drug companies are arrogant and reckless. You might not have noticed but I often criticize the extreme dogmatic materialism of contemporary science, which I consider arrogant and self-righteous and close-minded. I am NOT talking about individual scientists, and I am NOT talking about the scientific method.

Science has gone beyond the scientific method and has become a religion, based on faith instead of reason. Non-materialist ideas are not considered.

This is why our understanding does NOT progress in certain areas, and the brain is one of those areas. The imaging technology has advanced and more correlations have been observed, but understanding has NOT advanced at all.

The brain is some kind of machine, so it should be possible to understand something about how it works. But they don't, because their religious faith of materialism prevents it.

There are some alternative scientists working on it, and maybe they will make progress since they are not blinded by religious faith. But mainstream neuroscience is stuck.

And no one noticed that in my first comment I agreed that these drugs can restore certain people to sanity. I am not against the drugs. But I am very much against using them for anyone without serious mental illness, or to dull the normal pains of life. And they are being used for that, even for children.

realpc

Charlie,

Maybe you have already considered this, but depression can be related to lifestyle or to medications for bood pressure and cholesterol. Do you take any of those drugs? Do you have the typical American lifestyle -- that's a great way to become depressed.

Serious depression must have causes, and Prozac does nothing to correct the cause. It can be useful temporarily, to jolt someone out of a cycle of despair. But using it long-term means ignoring the cause.

I realize it is not always possible to figure out the cause. Sometimes it might be psychological - a negative worldview, guilt feelings, etc. Brain chemicals affect our moods, but our moods also affect brain chemiclas. A vicious cycle can get started where you feel bad and therefore negative thoughts increase, which in turn adversely affects brain chemicals, and so on.

The important thing is not to fall for the diabetes analogy. Prozac is not replacing something your body is uable to make for itself, as is the case with type I diabetes. If that were true, taking Prozac long-term would make sense. But the cause of type I diabetes is more or less understood -- the part of the pancreas responsible for making insulin has been damaged. We do not have a similar understandiing of depression -- is part of the brain damaged which is responsible for making a particular chemical, resulting in low levels of serotonin? There is no reason to believe that is ever the cause of depression.

Besides there are many other more obvious causes. Low thyroid is one example. Physical inactivity is a major problem for Americans. And, as I said, blood pressure and cholesterol drugs, and others, can cause depression. All these things should be considered.

Maybe you have already tried everything and Prozac is a last resort. But it is a mistake to put all your faith in the prevailing medical mythology.


amba

Real,

There is convincing evidence that the susceptibility to depression runs in families. I'm not positive but I believe that through adoption and separated-twins studies, it has been shown that the effect is not just environmental. That suggests that there is a genetic vulnerability. (It exists in my family. I have experienced fairly severe depression, but for me exercise is a very effective antidote and preventive. It doesn't work that way for some members of my family.)

There's no question that depression has a cognitive component and if it is not too severe, it can be treated with cognitive therapy that intervenes at the point of repetitive thoughts of worthlessness and despair. These interventions have been shown to change electrical activity in the brain and they undoubtedly change its chemistry as well. However, people who are profoundly clinically depressed are unable to begin cognitive therapy, and they are at high risk for suicide. Then the drugs can be lifesaving and can break the vicious cycle.

There is also evidence of "kindling," that is, that depression builds on itself -- when you have had one serious depression you are more susceptible to others. It is possible that someone with Charlie's experience can learn to avoid falling into that pit in the brain through lifestyle and thought-discipline alone, but I can imagine that if I had been that depressed I'd be very much afraid of the black hole-like force of that pit in my brain and would be willing to take a drug to help me stay away from it (and there may be an element of belief and placebo effect in there too, and what the hell).

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