"Internet Addiction" may soon spread like wildfire. All the elements favoring fad generation are in place… the profusion of alarming books; the breathless articles in magazines and newspapers; extensive TV exposure; ubiquitous blogs; the springing up of unproven treatment programs; the availability of millions of potential patients; and an exuberant trumpeting by newly minted "thought leading" researchers and clinicians.
There is no doubt that most of us have become hooked on our electronic devices and that some people are gravely harmed by what develops into an unhealthy and uncontrollable attachment to them. The question is how best to understand, define, and deal with this. What does the term “addiction” mean and when is it a useful way of describing our passions and needs? We don’t consider ourselves addicted to our cars, TV’s, refrigerators, or air conditioners. Is attachment to the Internet fundamentally different?

Internet Addiction—The Next New Fad Diagnosis by Allen Frances.

The whole concept of behavioral addictions is highly controversial and has never heretofore been given any official status. There is a good reason for this. It is extremely difficult to distinguish the relatively few people who are really enslaved by shopping, sex, work, golf (or the Internet) from the huge army of those who are attached to these as pleasurable recreation. It should not be counted as a mental disorder and be called an “addiction” just because you really love an activity, get a lot of pleasure from it, and spend a lot of time doing it. To be considered  “addicted,” you should be compulsively stuck doing something that is no longer fun, feels out of control, serves no useful purpose, and is certainly not worth the pain, costs, and harms. The unfavorable cost/benefit ratio should be pretty lopsided before mental disorder is considered. 

We all do dumb things that offer short-term pleasures but cause bad long term consequences. It is not “addiction” whenever someone gets into trouble because of over-spending, golfing too much, or having repeated sexual indiscretions. That’s our human nature—derived from many millions of years of evolutionary experience where life was short, opportunities for pleasure rare, and the long term didn’t count for nearly as much as it does now. There is a risky slippery slope if we medicalize our pleasure seeking, irresponsible selves.  

The Pipe Nebula, a prime example of a dark nebula. A dark nebula is a clouds of interstellar dust so think it can block out the light from the stars beyond. (via ESO)

The Pipe Nebula, a prime example of a dark nebula. A dark nebula is a clouds of interstellar dust so think it can block out the light from the stars beyond. (via ESO)


: lol wait, you think psychotherapy is bad?

salixj asked something similar:

I don’t think psychotherapy is bad, I think it can be bad. In certain conditions, psychotherapy is harmful. Some form of psychotherapy are harmful and other are more likely to be harmful. A form of psychotherapy could produce a positive effect on a problem/disorder, but negative on others. Some kind of therapeutic relationships could be detrimental for some people. It’s quite a complex subject really.

My opinion is that psychotherapy is more likely to produce a negative effect when the therapist thinks the theory he embraces/the methods he uses is the best. When a psychoanalist (or CBT therapist or any kind of therapist) think psychoanalysis (or CBT or any other form of therapy) is the best of all, the probability of something going wrong increases a lot.

Let me give a simple example.

Critical Incident Stress Debriefing is a form of psychotherapy designed to prevent PTSD and related anxiety disorders among individuals exposed to extreme stressors. It’s administered in group within 24 to 72 hr of the traumatic event. The therapist talks about  the PTSD symptoms that the group members are eventually going to experience and encourage them to discuss and ‘‘process’’ their negative emotions. This is based on the assumption that to talk about the stressful experience and the associated emotions is good for you and it will prevent you to experience mental health problems.

That’s not true. The fact is, research shows the CISD can heighten risk for posttraumatic stress. So basically CISD produce the exact effect it is supposed to prevent. 

There are several reasons to why that could happen (for example, many people could be not ready to discuss their emotions, talk about your emotions is not always good.) But the main reason is that this program are thought to be useful to every person who had an extremely stressful experience because they’re expected to be more at risk, more in need for help, and when you’re stressed what’s better than talking about how you feel? Right?

No. Not always. Not for everyone.

So, the topic is complex and I don’t think I can explain it in details on tumblr, but, yes, psychotherapy can be bad. It’s not always bad. I think it can be very useful, really. But it can also be bad. That’s the truth.

I’ve spent a year and a half writing about the negative effect in psychotherapy, so when it comes to psychotherapy, I have some uncommon opinions (the negative effect in psychotherapy is an obscure subject, if you study it for long enough, you’re gonna develop uncommon opinions). Yesterday two psychotherapists were talking to me about their own psychotherapy (psychotherapists often do a psychotherapy during their training, it is sometimes called didactic therapy) and I was astonished about how much they have idealized that experience, to me it was almost like they were brainwashed.

I’m just writing this feeling, I don’t really know what’s the point here. I guess I’m wondering if I think the things I think just because I only have a theoretical knowledge of the subject. Maybe if I did a psychotherapy, I would change my mind. I don’t know, I doubt that, but I’ve seen people entering the office of a psychotherapist for the first time and start crying the exact same moment they sit in the chair, so…


: you used to be so pretty, but now youre just tragic.

I was always tragic.


: have you ever done LSD?

No I haven’t. I haven’t done many drugs at all. 

The three virus capsid classes [img: Periodic Table of Virus Capsids: Implications for Natural Selection and Design]

Icosahedral capsid (protein shell that envelops the DNA) of Herpes simples virus 1 (HSV-1). [img 1/2)

First, cast doubt on the science. Second, question the personal motives and integrity of the scientists. Third, magnify genuine disagreements among scientists, and cite nonexperts with minority opinions as authorities. Fourth, exaggerate the potential harm caused by the issue at hand. Fifth, frame issues as a threat to personal freedom. And sixth, claim that acceptance would repudiate a key philosophy, religious belief, or practice of a group.
Six tactics used by denial campaign. Keep them in mind so that you’ll be able to distinguish denial from legitimate scientific debate. - Flavors of Uncertainty: The Difference between Denial and Debate

Go out early tomorrow evening and you will see Venus and Jupiter to the west, and Saturn to the south. Use a telescope if you can. Seeing such marvels for yourself is much more immediate and personal than looking at images on the television. The natural world is fascinating, and is even more so if you are prepared to observe, to experiment, to think, and to try and understand.
The new enlightenment by Paul Nurse