Anti-psychiatry is a loose social movement that first emerged in the 1960s in Europe and the US, and it began as an ideological response to the treatment of mental illness in asylums at the time. Those supporting the movement were concerned about the poor conditions of many of these asylums, as well as the abusive and inhumane treatment that patients were subject to. In addition, anti-psychiatrists believed that the process of institutionalising patients in asylums, in general, would not aid their recovery but frustrate it. Anti-psychiatrists also argued that conditions like schizophrenia could not be real diseases because they did not involve any obvious brain changes, nor could they be detected by a physical test. Then there was the issue of psychiatry pathologising minority groups, such as homosexuals.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on January 12, 2021.
In 1898, Harper’s Magazine published an essay by Mark Twain titled Concerning the Jews, in which the author responds to a letter from a lawyer who asks Twain to explain why antisemitism is so rampant in society and why Jewish people throughout history have born the brunt of so much hatred and hostility. Twain essentially argues that the main reason why antisemitism exists is because of Jewish success, and the envy, resentment, and anger this engenders among non-Jews. In his view, religious prejudice is a minor cause of antisemitism, and ignorance and fanaticism cannot fully account for the level of anti-Jewish bigotry that exists.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on January 6, 2021.
Ageism, a form of prejudice and discrimination based on age, was originally formulated by the psychiatrist Robert Neil Butler in 1969 to refer specifically to prejudicial attitudes toward older people, old age, and the ageing process; discrimination against older people; and the stereotyping of older people. Nowadays, ageism applies as a general term for prejudices about — and discrimination against — people based on age, so children, adolescents, and young people can feel the brunt of it as well. However, ageism is particularly pronounced among older people and this is why Butler originally devised ageism to refer to discrimination against seniors.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on January 5, 2021.
A flexitarian is someone who has a primarily vegetarian diet, but who occasionally eats fish and meat. Not all flexitarians are alike. As the name suggests, it is a flexible diet. While one person may only meat at the weekends or one day a week, someone else may reserve meat for dinner only, and another flexitarian might only eat meat and fish when eating out. Paul McCartney has been promoting the flexitarian diet with the concept of Meat Free Mondays.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 28, 2020.
Benzodiazepine medications are traditionally prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD), but people may also find them useful for the treatment of other mental health conditions, as well as insomnia. While incredibly helpful at times, especially for people with the most severe symptoms, benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax) can be highly addictive. Many people find the withdrawals from benzodiazepines much harder to deal than those of opioids, including heroin.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 24, 2020.
People living with mental illness may be eager to seek relief for their condition yet decide to avoid visiting a psychiatrist. Of course, psychiatry is not the only field that deals with the treatment of mental health conditions but it is the institution that specifically exists to diagnose, prescribe treatment for, and treat conditions that psychiatry itself delineates.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 22, 2020.
During personal, guided, or group psychedelic sessions, people will often confront a range of issues, from trauma to depression to addiction (sometimes all three together since these problems are often linked). One of the most interesting aspects of the psychedelic experiences, to me personally, is how they can feature confrontations with the key existential concerns that we have as humans: death, meaninglessness, isolation, and freedom.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 18, 2020.
Cinema both reflects and influences public attitudes and beliefs. It is, therefore, a particularly useful medium in which to assess how we view certain institutions and professions in society. Psychiatry is one of those institutions and professions that people can have very strong opinions about, and which is regarded by many as a force in society to be mistrusted. While there are, indubitably, valid criticisms of psychiatry coming from the critical psychiatry and anti-psychiatry movements, I argue that a great deal of public perception of psychiatry is influenced by cinema (and mass media more generally).
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 17, 2020.
Right now the goal of SpaceX is to colonise Mars. This is the nearest planet that we could feasibly travel to and inhabit. Soon our technological capabilities will allow us to travel to, and live on, the red planet in a cost-efficient and sustainable way. Science fiction will become reality. But there is no reason that our thirst for space exploration and colonisation would end on the Red Planet. Many sci-fi books deal with the topic of space colonisation. Colonising planets other than Mars could become a reality in the future. But which ones planets are good candidates?
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 15, 2020.
Philipp Mainländer (1841–1876) was a German poet and philosopher, born in Offenbach, Germany. He was a disciple of Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy and one of the patron saints of 19th-century German pessimism (other notable figures belonging to this curious philosophical trend include Eduard von Hartmann and Julius Bahnsen). Unlike these other pessimists, though, he had quite a unique theory about why the universe came into existence. It is a theory that can be classed as a kind of pessimistic pandeism.
Originally published at https://www.samwoolfe.com on December 14, 2020.