Monday, September 10, 2012

I've heard worse....

That wasn't the rumour that I've heard about Tony Abbott, Mr Marr. Did you dig deep enough?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The two faces of Lateline

How ironic. Lateline on the ABC last night featured an interview with Professor Patrick McGorry. He has in the past expressed his concern, as a professional mental health doctor, for the welfare of asylum-seekers imprisoned in detention centres for long periods of time, and he was again expressing such concerns last night. A less likable aspect of the professor is his insistent advocacy of routine and widespread psychiatric intervention into the lives of young people who show what could controversially be interpreted as the first signs of psychosis, including the definite possibility use of controversial neuroleptic drugs such as Seroquel/Quetiapine. Prof McGorry has been the subject of widespread and effective opposition on this front from other mental health professionals. I thought last night's interview on Lateline gave the professor a sympathetic run, with an absence of questions about psychiatric drug interventions and their negative effects. In stark contrast, apparently tonight Lateline will be running an exclusive story about the serious misuse of this same class of stupefying and damaging psychiatric drugs in nursing homes. I really do wonder whether there is a wilful lack of attention going on a the ABC. It is politically easy to question the questionable use of questionable drugs, except when a charismatic public figure says they are completely necessary.

I want an assurance from someone in the government that any asylum-seekers who develop mental illness or apparent mental illness while detained overseas will not be inappropriately or routinely prescribed questionable drugs, and will not be included in any trials of interventions of such a nature. 

Tonight's story on Lateline looks like it will be powerful stuff, but I doubt that it will be as big as the expose of the anti-anxiety psychiatric drug Xanax that was on Seven's Sunday Night last month:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wild speculation

I wonder, is there anything at all in the idea of a split in the ALP? Would that be a case of Doc Evatt deja vu? 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A political quote to ponder from a wise ALP elder

"I've even, Paul, fought more Greens and Liberals and Nationals than you've done media interviews."  (cheers, applause and smiles from the audience at a left-wing conference) "Why don't you just put a sock in it for once?" 

That was a highlight of ALP Senator John Falkner's reply to union leader and ALP faceless man Paul Howe's attack on the Greens over voting preferences. A short excerpt of Howes' and Falkner's speeches can be viewed on the ABC TV show Insiders. In my opinion, the idea of attacking the Greens has many risks for the ALP, and Paul Howes has demonstrated a level of zero expertise in courting the voter.

Aston, Heath (2012) Put a sock in it, Falkner tells Howes. Sydney Morning Herald. July 15th 2012. 

It's a pity what they've done to Google Search

It's a pity they've buggered up Google search. In the good old days it would have been easy to look up this blog, just type in blond ambition, and maybe the term blog, and you probably would have seen a page from this blog in the first page of results, with no need for the use of quotation marks to bossily direct the search engine in how to do it's job. It would have stood out from all the stuff on the net with the title blonde ambition, all the girly blogs and Madonna paraphernalia, because I chose to spell this blog without the E at the end of blond, to denote the male meaning of the word blond.

But they had to screw up the perfect search engine in the quest of making it idiot-proof, and now Google search takes all manner of misspellings and also legitimate and distinctive spelling variations and makes the assumption that they all mean the same thing, and now the default search is an incredibly vague search which does allow for spelling errors, but also squashes and disregards useful and important information. I'm not sure if this is the same methodology that was used to stuff up PubMed many moons ago. I've given up trying to figure out how PubMed works, I just muddle on with it and throw as much relevant info at it as possible, and now look upon it as an unwilling servant to be beaten into submission.

So now, it appears that the best and possibly only way to quickly retrieve my political blog using Google search is to do a search that is part phrase search, part regular search, thus:

"blond ambition" blog

and there it is at numbers one to four of the first page of results. These days you've got to be a little bit smart to use the new, improved, idiot-proof Google search. That's progress!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Former Liberal Prime Minister rips into current Liberal Party leader on asylum-seeker policy

“The most effective way to restore integrity and public confidence in  asylum  seeker policy  is through strong leadership, myth busting and accurate  information. Not to present a policy that is the closest thing to evil you can get. A policy that is full of misinformation."

“In 2010-11, 4730 asylum seekers  arrived by boat. During the same period, more  than  13 million people crossed our borders and arrived in Australia; 4730 out  of 13.9 million is not a ''system vulnerable to abuse''."

“This is the opposite of integrity. It is inhumane and demeans Australia. Is this the basis on which Abbott will operate if he, as he believes he will, becomes prime minister?"

Abbott's evil policy work.
by Malcolm Fraser
Sydney Morning Herald.
June 18, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's like watching tennis - Prof. Allen Frances criticizes new govt child mental illness screening program

Like night follows day, American Emeritus Professor Allen Frances, a psychiatrist and also a veteran of a past DSM revision, has volunteered his two-bob worth on the subject of the Gillard Government's upcoming program of mental health screening of three-year-olds, "The Healthy Kids Check", and true to form, he isn't being kind. According to Prof. Frances "There's absolutely no evidence at all that we can predict accurately who will go on to have a mental disorder", so it would appear that a program that aims to identify mental illness in little ones who aren't even old enough to go to big school would be a foolish enterprise indeed. Add to that the probability that the screening will do harm: "A label like 'autism' can be obviously devastating, but even less severe labels can have a dramatic effect on expectations, on the way the child feels about himself, his role in the family. I would be very cautious about labels, especially in young children, especially because they're so likely to be wrong."

The ABC are claiming that the Healthy Kids Check will be voluntary, but I have my doubts that parents will not be financially coerced by the federal government into submitting their young children to examination. In March 2012 the Australian parenting magazine Web Child reported that parents risk losing a Centrelink payment if they omit to "take their four year old for a mandatory health assessment." Is this the same assessment as the Healthy Kids Check?

All of the media stories that I have read about the planned program indicate that it is not limited at all to identifying mental illness, but is in fact very much geared to identifying supposed signs of autism, which is considered to be an incurable developmental disability or alternately a form of neurodiversity. In Australia mental health and early intervention are some of the biggest fads of the decade, so apparently to give this intrusive program appeal it is being sold as a form of mental health early intervention leading to recovery, a spin on the subject that is sure to offend many people who identify themselves as autistic but not mentally disordered.

Prof Frances is currently appearing in Perth, along with the Irish-Australian psychiatrist professor whom he has often spoken out against, Prof Patrick McGorry, at the Asia Pacific Conference on Mental Health. Clinical Professor Jon Jureidini and the federal Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler will also be speaking at this conference.

Hall, Eleanor (2012) Expert warns against child mental health checks. PM. ABC Radio National. June 11th 2012.

Asia Pacific Conference on Mental Health.

Roberts, Felicity (2012) Don't miss out on family payment. Web Child. Match 20th 2012.

Loner littlies to be labelled (in Australia)

See my post about this at my other blog:
Preschoolers to get mental health checks.
ABC News. June 10, 2012.

McGorry and co get a run on Radio National

I didn't hear ABC radio presenter Lynn Malcolm ask any tough questions in this program, but perhaps they were edited out, as McGorry did address many of the issues that people have with his plans for psychiatry geared to young people in Australia, funded by the Gillard Government. He also acknowledged that there are areas of active controversy. I think the most interesting thing about this show is how readily McGorry and another professional interviewed admit that some of the most important modes of treatment delivered at their various networks of mental health clinics are not fully researched and are not supported by a complete or even firm evidence base. They are happy to admit that much more research is needed, and the big issue that I have with McGorry and co is that I believe that an evidence base should precede the offering of any medical treatment (outside of the context of a clinical trial), and not follow after the treatments are offered to vulnerable young people, and after huge sums of funding from the federal government have been aggressively solicited for and received. Demonstrating that a medical service does more good than harm should not be just an afterthought to placate the critics. 
Malcolm, Lynne (2012) Young minds, the highs and the lows. All in the Mind. ABC Radio National. June 10th 2012.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Need to see a head specialist?

Does one really need to visit a mental health clinic for butterflies in the stomach? A fluttering in the abdomen is anxiety as in a psychiatric disorder? It seems like a bit of an exaggeration to me.

Headspace - Dreaded Butterflies.
by Simon Bronson

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Big news on the psychiatry front when I wasn't looking

I've not had much time for blogging in the last few weeks and I've missed some important developments in the last couple of months regarding the upcoming edition of the "bible of psychiatry", the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). An early-intervention mental health diagnosis that has been championed by Prof Patrick McGorry, who has great influence on the Gillard Government and a high-profile in Australia, has been rejected by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). This supposed disorder which is thought to be a milder early sign of the onset of a psychotic mental illness, typically in teens and young adults, will not be included inthe fifth edition of the world-famous manual of psychiatric diagnosis, but will be relegated to the appendix where disorders requiring more research are placed and forgotten. This controversial condition went by a bewildering range of names: "psychosis risk syndrome" "prodromal symptoms" "prodrome" "high-risk syndrome" "ultra-high-risk syndrome" "at-risk mental state" etc. The ad hoc nomenclature gives the impression that the professor was just making it up as he went along. 

Don't be overly distracted by the rejection of one proposed new mental illness by the APA. The crashing and burning of the prodrome is not really the big news from last month on the subject of modern psychiatry's revision of it's great big guidebook. The big news was that two diagnostic categories in some of the most supposedly common and also some of the most aggressively promoted types of mental illness in Australia, major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder, have been found by psychiatry researchers to be diagnostic categories which cannot be reliably identified, in that there was found to be a major lack of consensus from one doctor to another about who did or did not meet some diagnostic criteria for these types of disorders. What kind of diagnoses are these, which cannot be identified with any certainty or reliability? If modern psychiatry was an emperor, he'd be looking very bare and very embarrassed right now.

Why are these recent developments important to Australians? The Gillard Government has committed a huge sum of money to reforms in mental health services, guided by controversial figures such as Pat McGorry, Ian Hickie and John Mendoza. We don't only have the government spending big on psychiatry and shoving the message down our throats that we all need more of it, we also have some very powerful and influential charities and organizations inflicting very pervasive and long-standing public awareness campaigns about mental illness onto the general public. Two that come to mind are Beyondblue and the Brain and Mind Research Institute, but there is a mental health message promoter lurking around every corner in Australia. Awareness campaigns actively recruit ordinary unqualified, uneducated members of the public as peer-support spreaders of the word that mental illness is everywhere and needs to be treated yesterday. Psychiatry propaganda seeps into ordinary social exchanges and is impossible to avoid. TV news stories hammer the message that we should be uncertain and concerned about the minds of others and our own. Journalists have swung from one extreme to another regarding the reporting of suicide (which is universally assumed to be the result of mental illness). I remember the days when it was a subject banned from news reports based on the belief that reporting might trigger copy-cats. These days suicide is the flavour of the month on current affairs reporting, and journalists jump to label crimes and deaths as suicide, sometimes mistakenly. Because of this tasteless and horrible focus on the morbid and the sordid it is now impossible to sit through the news hour on TV in the company of young children. For many years now Australians who watch late-night commercial television have been assailed by TV commercials for the network of Headspace psychiatric clinics aimed at young people, often with scant or no indication that this is what these clinics actually are. Now I find that there is absolutely no place except home where I can go to escape messages about mental derangement. Even in a public toilet I have psychiatry propaganda about depression and anxiety (the two disorders that can't apparently be reliably diagnosed) shoved in front of my face. We now have full-page illustrated advertisements advocating the identification of mental illness and the use of the services of professional mental health services on the back of dunny doors! They are found in toilets in shopping centres, universities, you name it. ENOUGH!

What's wrong with spreading awareness, you might ask. If the message is a misrepresentation, then it is all bad, and the message is indeed mostly lies. We are told that the treatments work. In fact, there is a load of good evidence that many of the drugs prescribed for depression and other mental illnesses do not act as chemical treaments and have troublesome or dangerous side effects. If they were just sugar pills, that would only be a con, but it's worse than that. An active placebo works because the person taking the drug can feel definite and troublesome side effects, and he/she unconsciously takes this as evidence of the potency of the drug, and this gives rise to a powerful placebo effect (which is a real effect, but not the result of any drug action). These drugs cost patients and the taxpayer dearly, many have serious side effects and many of them basically don't work, and in the process the patient is often unjustifiably convinced that she/he has a defective brain which needs ongoing chemical assistance to work adequately. We are told that modern psychiatry is based on a solid foundation of decades of research evidence that meets the highest scientific standards, but in fact one of the trials which was part of the evidence foundation of the recent DSM revisions had a grand total of nine (9) ill patients as subjects. And they are trying to make you and I feel guilty for not going along with this debacle? Pull the other one, mate!
Aldhous, Peter (2012) Trials highlight worrying flaws in psychiatry 'bible'. New Scientist. 17 May 2012 issue 2865. p.6-7.
Maxmen, Amy (2012) Psychosis risk syndrome excluded from DSM-5. Nature. May 9th 2012.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Report by WA politician Martin Whitely on WA's ADHD bubble in medical journal

Two quotes from a story from Western Australia's Science Network:

"A RECENT report has revealed the excessive over-prescription of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medication that was occurring in WA throughout the 1990s and early 2000s."

"The main reason for prescribing drugs to children with ADHD is to help them learn, however, this evidence suggests the opposite is happening.” 
- Martin Whitely MLA

The recent report referred to is written by Whitely and was published in May's issue of the 
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. PubMed claims it is "free full text" but I can't find any place where it can be obtained free, and oddly there is no mention of this piece at Whitely's own website. 

Bogle, Helena
Sudden drop in ADHD suggests ineffective prescription monitoring. 
Science Network Western Australia. 
May 31st 2012.

Whitely, Martin 
The rise and fall of ADHD child prescribing in Western Australia: Lessons and implications. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 
2012 May;46(5):400-3.

Speed Up & Sit Still

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Scientist report on anti-psychiatry protesters

"Label jars, not people"  "Problems aren't in our heads, but between our heads"  "15-minute sessions are a form of malpractice"  "Stop medicalising the normal symptoms of life"

'Label jars, not people': Lobbying against the shrinks.
by James Davies
New Scientist.
magazine issue 2965
17 May 2012.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

John Mendoza on One Plus One

Today an interview with the outspoken and controversial Australian psychiatrist John Mendoza was broadcast on the ABC's current affairs interview show One Plus One, along with some other interviews. Journalist Jane Hutcheon was the interviewer. When asked about the current strong advocacy in Australia for early intervention services for young people judged to be at risk of developing psychosis, Mendoza claimed that there was strong evidence, but I don't recall that he stated what of. His words might have sounded quite authoritative to a viewer with only a marginal interest and little background knowledge of the issue, but I was unimpressed, to say the least. Hutcheon also held Mendoza to account for his unprofessional smears of former PM Kevin Rudd during the run-up to the last leadership spill in the ALP, which is surely a question that needed to be asked.

One Plus One.

Have we seen the last of Rudd? Don't bet on it!

Rudd shortens: punters back Kevin Rudd as Bill Shorten gets narky.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Guardian reports that study finds drugs should not be first option

The Guardian newspaper yesterday published an article reporting the findings of a study which apparently found that drugs should not be the first option for treating young people thought to be at risk of developing a psychotic mental illness such as schizophrenia, because "only a tenth will go on to develop more serious conditions" and ""benign" psychological treatments, including Cognitive Therapy (CT), were effective in reducing the severity of psychotic experiences". So I've got to wonder why some Australian psychiatrists have been so enthused about trialling the pills. I guess this should be good news for psychologists and bad news for psychiatrists and drug companies. But didn't the Gillard Government bring in a program of mental health reforms that gave lots of funding for psychiatry at the expense of psychological treatment? Nice one, Julia! You're a one-woman-skill-shortage.

Drugs not best option for people at risk of psychosis, study warns. Guardian. April 6th 2012.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

ABC News stuffs up again

If anyone needed evidence that the ABC's news is inept and biased against Rudd, their reporting of today's big event has delivered confirmation. ABC News reported by Twitter this morning that it was confirmed that Rudd got 29 votes in today's ALP leadership vote - WRONG! It was later confirmed that Rudd's share was 31 votes, and the ABC were forced to issue an embarrasing apology, following a few snide comments from others on Twitter.

P.S. Funny how on March 5th the ABC's Media Watch sarcastically criticised the Twitter misreporting of the leadership vote count by an individual press journalist with a Twitter account, but there was no similar reprimand to the ABC over their even worse misreporting of the wrong figure as confirmed. How biased is Media Watch?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Can Rudd change? History says he's done it before

Today one of the most live questions in Australia is the question of whether Kevin Rudd is capable of being a better PM than he was during his very eventful first term (in which he spared Australia's economy from the GFC), which was cut short in mid 2010 by "the coup". Can Rudd change? Has the bruising experience of being sacked at short notice given Rudd cause for reflection and transformation? I've read one commentator who seems to actually have a clue about political history (unlike myself) who claimed that in general party leaders do a better job second time around. I can't offer any opinion on this point, or on the question of whether Rudd has changed for the better since 2010 (clearly his appearance has changed and he's looking considerably older). On one point though, there is plenty of evidence which I'd like to point out. Is Rudd capable of major personal change? I'd argue that he has already undergone a striking self-created transformation in his transition from bureaucrat to politician, but it is debatable whether this was a deep or a superficial change.

As David Marr (has he been reading my ex-published piece about Rudd?) recently pointed out on ABCTV, Rudd had to undertake a major transformation in order to become a successful politician. Some people are born politicians, but it appears that Rudd is not one of these people. Perhaps this is the wellspring of his appeal with the Australian people. Rudd was a spectacularly successful politician in 2007, but don't forget that he was once an electoral loser. If there is a formula for "Politics for Dummies" Rudd surely discovered it, smart and persistent as he is, and perhaps following this winning formula with discipline is a more effective method of winning elections than a less conscious and planned approach.

Rudd's first attempt at politics was unsuccessful. In 1996 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the seat of Griffith in Queensland. It is an almost constant theme in the body of literature about successful role models in business and other fields that very successful people have failure in their past, and they bounce back and also learn from their failure or failures, and that learning is possibly of crucial importance. In 1998 Rudd managed to win the seat of Griffith, and it has been the base of his career ever since. Rudd is now widely acknowledged as a brilliant political campaigner. He has come a long way. Some time between 1996 and 1998 a self-initiated metamorphosis evidently happened. The best place that I know to find information about this is the book Inside Kevin 07 by Christine Jackman. This is a book completely lacking in objectivity, as Jackman was a friend of the Rudd's when it was written (and could still be for all I know), but the advantage to this is that it gives a much more intimate account of the personalities involved with Rudd's 2007 electoral triumph, and Jackman was able to source a lot of information about the time before Rudd was a politician, from people who were there at the time. Rudd's former boss ex-premier of Queensland Wayne Goss and Rudd's brother lobbyist Greg Rudd both described Kevin's metamorphosis in the book. He lost a lot of his illusions and naivety about what it takes to succeed in politics, and most importantly, he got out among the people at every opportunity, a crash course in personal charm and dealing with humans. It worked! It is one thing to read this in a book, but a picture tells a thousand words, they say. I knew if this personal transformation was really as dramatic as they say in the book, there should be a considerable difference between Rudd's appearance before and after. We've all seen the "after" shots of Rudd in unavoidable media saturation, but the "before" shots are rarely shown in media stories and are surprisingly hard to find on the internet. I'm sorry that I can't offer any link to a photo or video of Rudd before 1998. There was once one blurry amateur shot on one of the photo-sharing websites (could have been Flickr) of a young Rudd campaigning in 1996, but it appears that it has been withdrawn from publication. It was amazing. It was like a different person. THe iconic smile was absent. Rudd stood with a hunched posture looking like he had not a single shred of confidence. A woman looking like that would attract labels such as "wallflower" or "shrinking violet". I know, I've been there, done that! In my opinion this photo casts into doubt the unfortunately popular idea that Rudd has some kind of personality disorder associated with inflated self-image, such as narcississtic PD. It is my understanding that such disorders are inborn, but it appears that there was once a time in his adult years when Rudd manifested as quite a different personality.

I'm so sorry that I can't find anything like that shot to show you first hand, because seeing is believing. I know that Rudd is capable of change, and you can check the evidence yourself in the book. Rudd has changed dramatically in the past, by learning in response to failure. This is a hallmark of very high achievers. Whether or not he has tired of changing to meet the demands of others, or has the basic resources to again meet the needs of the top job in our nation while also leading a high-powered team, are questions that I can only guess at.

Inside Kevin 07
Jackman, Christine,%20Christine

Friday, February 24, 2012

John Mendoza still an a******e

Shame, John Mendoza, SHAME! Your psychiatric slur against Rudd is grossly unprofessional and clearly motivated by personal emnity, and says so much more about you than it says anything at all about Mr Rudd.

One reason why I find myself in the position of being a solid Rudd supporter, despite what I believe is a good understanding of his many personal flaws and political wrongs, is that so many of the people who speak out against Rudd and might gain more power in Rudd's absence from the leadership role, are a******es. Plain and simple. A******es. Sunshine Coast "Adjunct Professor" Mendoza included.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Smith issuing threats?

I was just watching the press conference with Defence Minister Stephen Smith and the Justice Minister Jason Clare on the ABC's news channel, and I caught some kind of threat issuing from Smith to the effect that someone will come down like a ton of bricks onto dissenters. Smith and Clare have declared their support for Gillard. I recall various media reports that there was some nasty threats and bullying within the ALP behind the scenes from the pro-Gillard camp in the lead-up to the 2010 ALP leadership spill. I wish I could locate a video of today's news conference in full to check Smith's exact words. Such ugliness.

A nod of the head still means "Yes" last time I checked - Gillard lies like a rug

I've just seen a video of an interview of PM Julia Gillard broadcast on ABC News 24 in which she was posed the loaded question of whether or not she was ever a disloyal deputy to Rudd. Her verbal reply was an insistent negative answer, while her head nodded like it might shake itself loose. I've already written about Gillard's odd habit of displaying body language that gives the opposite answer to her verbal communication when asked a loaded political question:

A nod of the head means yes.
by Lili Marlene
Blond Ambition.
September 3, 2011

Rudd and Rein urge voters to share their views on ALP leadership with local members

Now is certainly the time for Australian voters to call their local Labor MPs and senators to tell them who they prefer as Labor leader. One can only hope that someone might give a f***.

Therese Rein mobilises 'ordinary people' for Rudd
ABC News
Updated February 23, 2012

Don't get in Gillard's way....

you might end up crushed!

Is there an elephanty smell in the room?

Is there an important matter which most high-profile federal members of the ALP have been constantly failing to acknowledge? Kevin Rudd is popular with the voters, while the same cannot be said of much of the rest of the federal ALP team. Rudd at one time was extraordinarily, unprecedentedly popular with the world outside of the ALP. Simon Crean and Julia Gillard as leaders were just about as popular with voters as pork chops at a bar mitzvah. Rudd knows the secret of voter popularity. So many of his critical colleagues don't. Surely the envy and damaged egos of the has-beens and the never-weres who have witnessed spectacular electoral success must be a factor in Rudd's much-discussed unpopularity within his own party.

The Elephant in the Room

Source of this image:

I'd like to think that this lovely picture depicts Rudd's onging love affair with Australian voters, the big ugly animal in the room being the resentment of his ALP colleagues.

Monday, February 13, 2012

They are still talking about the Ruddocalypse, after all this time

Did Gillard and her colleagues believe that Rudd and the events of June 2010 would fade from the collective memory and fall back into the pages of history books? Dumb call.

I don't get why it is still such a live question as to when Gillard started planning her coup. Fowler unsuccessfully tried to get an answer out of the PM about some new evidence that she had planned well in advance, destroying the story that she was a party to the coup only as a last resort. It was reported by Patricia Karvelas on the front page of the Oz way back in December 2010 that months before the spill the "faceless man" Don Farrell told the US embassy that Gillard was campaigning for the leadership, according to a Wikileaks diplomatic cable release. I wrote about the lack of apparent impact of this story shortly after it was published. At the time it appeared that the ABC had not reported the story.

The Comeback Kid?
By Andrew Fowler and Peter Cronau
Four Corners
February 10th 2012

"Julia Gillard 'after top job a year before coup': WikiLeaks"
By Patricia Karvelas
The Australian
December 17, 2010

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Aussie psychiatrist Prof Ian Hickie at centre of controversy

Psychiatrist claims campaign to discredit him.
The World Today.
ABC Radio National
February 13th 2012

The drug Agomelatine and the medical journal The Lancet are mentioned in this report, subjects that I've written about before in connection with Prof. Hickie.

Also see this recent newspaper article:

Dunlevy, Sue
'Campaign' targets depression guru Ian Hickie.
The Australian.
February 13th 2012.

Quote from this article:

"West Australian Labor MP and anti-ADHD drug campaigner Martin Whitely called on Professor Hickie yesterday to step aside as a mental health commissioner over the row "and if he doesn't (Mental Health Minister) Mark Butler should remove him"."

I recommend the website Speed Up & Sit Still by Martin Whitely as a great place to get all the details of this controversy, which I have written about here in past posts:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Police threaten Aboriginal protester with a tear gas cannister on 40th anniversary of Aboriginal Tent Embassy

See photos number 5 and 11 in this interesting gallery of press photos.

"A policeman threatens protesters with a tear gas cannister in Canberra. Picture: Lukas Coch / AAP".

Notice how the older Aboriginal-looking man in photo number 15 was shoved aside on a stairway by the cops and security people rushing the PM away from the restaurant? PM's welfare is more important I guess.

This whole debacle was sparked by stupid and ignorant comments about the Aboriginal Tent Embassy made by Tony Abbott. Nice work, Tony! Abbott is clearly a man who cares about nothing and no-one except himself and his own career. He has proven himself over and over again to lack anything like the character that is required to be the leader of any organization, let alone the leader of a nation.

Note to the Prime Minister - Prince Charming does not have your lost shoe, but nevertheless I'm sure it has gone to a nice home.

Protesters trap PM, Tony Abbott.
The Australian.
January 26th 2012.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why behind a paywall?

It's such a pity that this old British Medical Journal paper is now hidden behind a paywall, because it was one of the few journal papers by Prof. Patrick McGorry, psychiatrist and former Australian of the Year, in which he disclosed much at all in the section found in most journal papers in which conflicting or competing interests are supposed to be disclosed by the author of the paper. This BMJ paper had an uncharacteristically long disclosure by McGorry. Now you readers will have to just go by what I've written about the disclosure, try to access the paper thru a library or pay to read the paper yourself. So much for freedom of information!

Is early intervention in the major psychiatric disorders justified? Yes.
British Medical Journal. 2008;337doi: 10.1136/bmj.a695
August 4th 2008.

You know things aren't going well in your medical practice when....

....a shitload of disgruntled ex-patients get together to form themselves into a support group, and a class action lawsuit looks probable. It looks like the misdeeds of the Australian psychiatrist Professor Graham Burrows are finally catching up with him. Why has it taken so long?

I find it rather interesting that Australia has two controversial psychiatrist professors, Dr Graham Burrows and Prof. Patrick McGorry, who have both been the subject of serious ethical objections to their trials of the same drug - Seroquel, which has the proper chemical name of Quetiapine and also goes by other brand names, and is manufactured by the drug company AstraZeneca. According to the Seven News report Burrows was being funded by the manufacturer of Seroquel to trial the drug on eating disorder patients, and Prof. McGorry tried to get a trial of Seroquel as a treatment to prevent the onset of psychosis happening in Australia, but that trial was closed down on ethical grounds after an international collection of health professionals and researchers lodged a formal objection to the trial, known as the NEUROPRO-Q study. Like Burrows McGorry has been the beneficiary of funding or assistance from AstraZeneca, which he has disclosed at least once in a medical journal paper. Another thing the two profs have in common - both Burrows and McGorry have been accused of practicing psychiatry in a way that results in or probably would result in patients being incorrectly diagnosed as schizophrenic. McGorry should take a tip - looking this similar to Dr Graham Burrows is not a good look, and this is true now more than ever!

Class action against Burrows.
reporter Louise Milligan
7News (Melbourne)
January 15th 2012

Seroquel XR: 0:28 of advert, 1:02 of horrible side effects!
[This is an unintentionally hilarious and scary advertisement for the drug Seroquel from the US, in which the disclaimer about serious side effects (which presumably must be added by law) takes up most of the time of the advert.]

Wikipedia contributors (accessed 2012) Quetiapine. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I can't understand why Dr/Prof Graham Burrows is still practising medicine

A quote from today's shocking 7News report about the controversial Australian psychiatrist/professor Graham Burrows:

"I can't describe it as anything other than disgusting."

I agree.

Burrows patient used as "guinea pig".
Milligan, Louise
January 12th 2012

and from late last year this report of an incredible bit of conduct:

Mental health charity probe.
McArthur, Grant
Herald Sun.
December 23rd 2011

another damning report from 2011:

7News exposes medical scandal

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Serco Ruins Christmas for Children in Detention

What kind of miserable f***s would prevent children from being given gifts at Christmas-time? What kind of power-crazed c*** would forbid children from having coloured crayons or coloured pencils outside of formal classes?

DASSAN Press Release: Serco Ruins Christmas for Children in Detention
Refugee Rights Action Network
5 January 2012.

Serco drops ban on coloured pencils and crayons for asylum-seeker children
by Kirsty Needham
Sydney Morning Herald.

January 7, 2012.

Serco drops ban on coloured pencils and crayons for asylum-seeker children
Refugee Rights Action Network
7 January 2012.