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748732.  Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:30 am Reply with quote

Surely you can't anthropomorphise depression as a dog, black or otherwise?


Sadurian Mike
748735.  Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:40 am Reply with quote

We* used to have a maxim concerning whether a man was mentally ill, "Is he Mad or Bad?" Simplistic as it sounds, it is a fundamental way to distinguish between whether the inmate commited the crime thanks to genuine insanity, or just because he chose to break society's rules for his own ends.

Of course, it takes a psychiatrist or two to make the diagnosis.

*I was a Prison Health Care Officer and dealt extensively with all manner of mental illness and other abberations, including personality disorders and slight learning difficulties (more severe ones rarely made it to the courts).

748742.  Sun Oct 03, 2010 5:56 am Reply with quote

samivel wrote:
Surely you can't anthropomorphise depression as a dog, black or otherwise?


I'd always assumed that Churchill used this term because it was in common parlance but it seems not. Neither is the Led Zep track Black Dog anything to do with depression. Here's Wiki

The song's title is a reference to a nameless black Labrador retriever that wandered around the Headley Grange studios during recording.[4][5] The dog has nothing to do with the song lyrics, which are about desperate desire for a woman's love and the happiness resulting thereby. Regarding the lyrics to the song, Plant later said, "Not all my stuff is meant to be scrutinized. Things like 'Black Dog' are blatant, let's-do-it-in-the-bath type things, but they make their point just the same."[6] Plant's vocals were recorded in two takes.[7]

761520.  Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:25 am Reply with quote

One of the most interesting cases of the insanity defense that I've come across is that of Charles J. Guiteau, the assassin of President James A. Garfield. His defense of insanity was bizarre, to say the least (though likely true), but it failed. He was hanged for his crime. There is an excellent book on the matter entitled The Trial of the Assassin Guiteau, though you can read more here.

To me, the most coherent point he made in his defense was that "The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him." Physicians were less than hygienically diligent with Garfield's wounds, often inserting unclean fingers to "search" for the bullet that had hit his spine. (In the process, one physician even punctured Garfield's liver.) Garfield had waves of infections because of this and likely would have survived had he just been left to heal.

Sadly, Garfield died 11 weeks after he was initially shot in Washington. By that point he had been moved north to the Jersey Shore to escape the stifling summer heat in Washington. So, if you ever play six degrees of separation between President Garfield and Snooki . . . you have been prepared!

761559.  Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:54 am Reply with quote

sjbodell wrote:
To me, the most coherent point he made in his defense was that "The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him."

As you note, he may have had a point here. Had President Garfield had better doctors - or indeed, had he not had any doctors at all - he'd probably have lived. (The bullets which hit him didn't threaten any of the vital organs, so they could just have been left where they were.)

But this was the problem - the doctors didn't know exactly where the bullets were, and the methods which they used to try and find out left a lot to be desired.

An offer from Thomas Edison for the President to be examined with Edison's newfangled X-ray machine was turned down, but it would have shown that there wasn't too much to worry about. Conversely, the medical team did accept an offer from Alexander Graham Bell who came down from Canada and investigated the President with the world's first metal detector - but failed to consider that the President was in a metal bed, and so the machine gave misleading results.

In the modern world, rational legal process would not necessarily enter into things if you stood before a US court accused of the murder of the President. But were the charge the murder of anyone else, I'd be fairly confident that a person accused of Mr Guiteau's crime would be able to bargain it down to attempted murder - which is not a capital offence.

761565.  Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:03 am Reply with quote

I believe that Guiteau's brain (and other bits) and President Garfield's spine are preserved at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington (next to Walter Reed Medical Center).

Ah, yes . . . here we go.

His brain looks suspiciously like a jar of gefilte fish I bought the other day.

In any case, the lead psychological advisor for the prosecution (John P. Gray) argued strongly that Guiteau was sane but eaten up by egotism. Other physicians (including Charles J. Folsom) who interviewed Guiteau disagreed and found Guiteau's mental state to be

clearly one of weakness due, possibly, to some very early, if not congenital, form of insanity, or to the dementia produced by disease, mild if chronic, organic if acute, possibly what some alienists would call the insane temperament or partial (moral) imbecility.

Well, the rest of Folsom's account can be read here.

Comparing the psycho-legal jargon of today and 130 years ago is quite an interesting task.

761690.  Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:01 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Yes, every quotation attributed to Einstein turns out to be misattributed - including, apparently:

Hang on - what? and similar epithets

778953.  Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:15 pm Reply with quote

As an undergrad I did a presentation on insanity and found that the most insane things about it were the treatments that were used by early practioners of the mental health field. Robert Whitaker wrote a very interesting book that focused on the industry in America called Mad in America. Many of these practices were used around the world to treat psychosis.

Some of them include the well known horrors of electroshock therapy and insulin coma, both of which can lead to permanent brain damage. And of course, lobotomy, prefrontal which involved cutting holes into the forehead and cutting nerves and transoribital also known as the ice pick lobotomy. It allowed the procedure to be done more quickly, but a lot less acurately. An instrument known as a leucotome was insterted between the eye and the upper lid and then tapped to create holes in the frontal lobe to regulate mood. The lobotomy was invented in 1935 in Lisbon by a man named Egas Moniz. Another scary thought, especially considered in the early 20th century was the idea of eugenics where mental illness would be elimintated by breeding it out (i.e. not letting mentally ill people have children.)

On a stranger note, though not unexpected, sex was seen as the route of all mental illness, especially if you were a woman in the Victorian period. Disorders included nymphomania and female hysteria. The Victorian description of nymphomaniac was any woman who had been assaulted, born illegitimate children, masturbated or was promiscuous. The clitoris was to blame for this and if found to be too large was actually removed in a surgical procedure called a clitorechtomy. Female hysteria dates back to ancient Greece and was used to explain everything from irratability to muscle spasms. In Greece it was thought to be caused by a wandering uterus that made women ill. The treatment was pelvic massage that was done until the patient experienced hysterical paroxysm (also known as orgasm.) This treatment was very difficult and trying for the doctor of course so new therapies were created, including hydrotherapy devices created in Bath in the early 19th century until, finally, in 1870 the first mechanical vibrator was created. It was clockwork driven and available only to physicians.

779607.  Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:39 pm Reply with quote

This article:
has a brief history of the subject, including mentioning doctors masturbating women as a cure for hysteria.

If you want a fictional-but-based-in-truth read about mental hospitals in the 40s and 50s in New Zealand, Janet Frame's 'Faces in the water' is good. Some of the treatments described there are a bit scary.

Ion Zone
780320.  Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:08 pm Reply with quote

Surely you can't anthropomorphise depression as a dog, black or otherwise?

In traditional terms, you can, Europe has a vast number of stories about back dogs.

Last edited by Ion Zone on Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:36 pm; edited 1 time in total

780336.  Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:31 pm Reply with quote

Explain, please.

Ion Zone
780339.  Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:38 pm Reply with quote

(Elaborated through an edit)

Black dogs are traditionally seen as roaming spirits, harbingers and personifications of death (and can be evil or benevolent) in many countries. Hence the Grim (and Dementors, who are of the same idea) in Harry Potter, as well as the Hound of the Baskervilles, etc, which are based on these stories.

Thus if you are depressed you are being "followed by a black dog".

780348.  Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:56 pm Reply with quote

Ah, then you've misunderstood my post, which was highlighting the incongruity of 'anthropomorphising' depression as a dog when to anthropomorphise something means to give it human form or attribute human characteristics to it.

Ion Zone
780355.  Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:28 pm Reply with quote

I thought it an incredibly minor mistake that wasn't worth mentioning.

Some of them include the well known horrors of electroshock therapy

Which is still in use (along with powerful medication prescribed to anyone who tells their doctor they feel depressed or any child who is a bit hyper).

780432.  Wed Jan 26, 2011 7:33 pm Reply with quote

Ion Zone wrote:
I thought it an incredibly minor mistake that wasn't worth mentioning.

I was only mentioning it in passing.


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