Friday, January 14, 2011

Peter Kramer on Slate.

While we're waiting on ClinkShrink, I'll steal a link to a Slate article on paranoia by Peter Kramer. He won't mind.

Fanning the flames of paranoia

A psychiatrist wonders how a culture of Birthers and Truthers feeds the delusions of people like Jared Loughner

Dr. Kramer writes:

The experience in my training years made me comfortable with paranoia. As a result, I have always had one or two paranoid patients on the roster in my private practice here in Providence, R.I. I should stress that no one I see resembles Jared Lee Loughner. I travel a good deal, and I can't leave the covering doctor with potentially violent patients. When my patients have schizophrenia or related conditions, they tend to be the most accomplished, most reliable, and nicest people to suffer these terrible afflictions. Their needs are serious enough.

Not much specific is known about how to treat paranoid patients. Generally, they don't come in hoping to lessen their delusions, which can be wholly convincing to them. They want relief from depression or insomnia -- or from an employer who has insisted they get help. Their mood symptoms may respond to medication, and they may even become less isolative, but generally the system of thought does not budge. After months of trials of different drugs, the patient will be less agitated and less pained but still solidly convinced that he is being watched and threatened. Always, too, there are prices to be paid in terms of medication side effects.

One thing we all seem to agree on with mental illness of this magnitude is that violence of this extreme and horrific nature is rare. It's all pretty horrible.