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  • Originally published 07/06/2013

    How Depression Went Mainstream: Interview with Dr. Edward Shorter

    Psychiatrists are very interested in the historical perspectives because they can see the obvious power that an understanding of history brings to appreciating the current situation. Historians haven’t been so interested. Psychiatrists are centered on diagnosis and treatment, and those are the two aspects that are central to the practice of medicine.

  • Originally published 05/26/2013

    Is Colorado's Institution for the Homeless Willowbrook Redux?

    Colorado could benefit from a history lesson. With Governor John Hickenlooper having just repurposed Fort Lyon, a former Veterans’ Administration hospital most recently used as a prison, for a homeless rehabilitation program, Coloradans should recall the experience of the Willowbrook State School, the institution famously described by Senator Robert Kennedy as a “snake pit.” At first glance, there is not much in common between Fort Lyon and Willowbrook. In an effort to address homelessness, particularly among veterans, Fort Lyon will house up to three hundred chronically homeless individuals, providing them with vocational training and supportive services for substance abuse and mental illness. After at least one year of residency at Fort Lyon, participants will be eligible to receive a Section 8 housing voucher.

  • Originally published 04/24/2013

    Seeking the Good Death

    Pediatric ward, University of Pennsylvania Hospital, 1907.Although most terminally ill Americans define a good death as one that occurs at home surrounded by family, a high proportion of people die alone in hospitals, tethered to machines. And many high technology treatments administered to dying patients impose enormous financial costs and inflict additional suffering without significantly extending life.

  • Originally published 07/18/2014

    Why a bill against medical experimentation on minors is necessary

    Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) explained the motivation behind H.R. 4989, known as Justina's Law. "Sixteen months ago, Justina was a [competitive] figure skater. Today, she cannot stand, sit or walk on her own." The bipartisan legislation aims to chop federal funds to "research in which a ward of the State is subjected to greater than minimal risk to the individual's health with no or minimal prospect of direct benefit."  The proximate cause is the tragic saga of now-16-year-old Justina Pelletier. Both officials in Massachusetts and medical staff at Boston Children's Hospital (BCH) are accused of sanctioning and conducting experimental research on Justina after removing her from parental custody. Justina's ordeal occurred over the vigorous objections of both parents.