Alone Together (Part Four)

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The computer scientist says, that we will evolve to love our tools, our tools will evolve to be lovable. Tools will allow us to do things that we’ve never done before. John Lester sees a future in which something like an AIBO will develop into a prosthetic device, extending human reach and vision. It will allow people to interact with real physical space in new ways. We will see “through its eyes”, says Lester, and interact “through its body… There could be some parts of it that are part of you, the blending of the tools and the body in […]

Alone Together (Part Three)

Will our reliance on technology compromise our relationships with humans and will the benefits be on individual and society level? It depends. Someone who had trouble with romance for many years will be living with robot girlfriend, not human girlfriend. If they are happier in personal relationships, they would perform their role better as citizens. As for other humans, they may not like to compete with robots. With Paro children are onto something: the elderly are taken with the robots. Most are accepting and there are times when some seem to prefer a robot with simple demands to a person […]

Alone Together (Part Two)

One of the important questions in the book is about possible replacement of humans with machines: “Don’t we have humans for those jobs?” In my opinion, it is not one or another, it is better to have a robot than no one. Especially in health care. The point is that there are not enough humans for those jobs… Unfortunately, people have needs that are not always satisfiable by people around us, due to limitations in geographies, extreme conditions, physical limitations… “There are not enough people to take care of aging Americans, so robot companions should be enlisted to help. Beyond […]

Alone Together (Part One)

Recently I was reading again Sherry Turkle’s book “Alone Together” and would like to share some thoughts about the first part of the book: “The robotic moment: In solitude, new intimacies”. Sherry describes several robots including those available on the market as social companions. They are, to name a few, Aibo, My Real Baby, Seal Paro, GOV, Kismet, Doll Madison, etc. I was surprised to learn how critical Sherry is of robots: tech evil that will corrupt humanity. Let’s look at the simple tech solution called Eliza. It is a program that chats with people, and very often in their […]

Anatomy of an Epidemic (Part Five)

Many of the people on SSI or SSDI that I interviewed spoke about how they felt they were caught in the tangles of a business enterprise. “There is a reason we are called consumers” was a comment I heard several times. They are right of course that the pharmaceutical companies wasn’t to build a market for their products, and when we view the psychopharmacology “revolution through this prism, as a business enterprise first and a medical enterprise second, we can easily see why psychiatry and the pharmaceutical companies tell the stories they do, and why the studies detailing poor long-term […]

Anatomy of an Epidemic (Part Four)

In his book Anatomy of an Epidemic Robert Whitaker talks about best practices from around the world in treating depression and other mental disorders. One of them is from Finland: The Turku psychiatrists decide on treatment based on case specific, but most important, they settled on group family therapy – of a particularly collaborative type – as the care treatment. Psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, and others trained in family therapy all served on two- and three-member “psychosis teams”, which would meet regularly with the patient and his or her family. Decisions about the patient’s treatment were made jointly at those meetings. […]

Anatomy of an Epidemic (Part Three)

The question was: Why have we seen such a sharp increase in the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States since the “discovery” of psychotropic medications? At the very least, there is one major cause. In large part, this epidemic is iatrogenic in kind. Now there may be a number of social factors contributing to the epidemic. Our society may be organized in a way today that leads to a great degree of stress and emotional turmoil. For instance, we may lack the close-knit neighborhood that help people stay well. Relationships are the foundation of human happiness, or […]

Anatomy of an Epidemic (Part Two)

Psychiatry has now three classes of medications it uses to treat affective disorders – antidepressants, mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics – but for whatever reason, an even greater number of people are showing up at Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance meetings around the country, telling of their persistent and enduring struggles with depression and mania. Patients get diagnosed with manic-depressive illness, informed that they suffer from a chemical imbalance in the brain, and put on Haldol and Lithium. Then comes a cocktail of drugs to counteroffer the side effects of the first two. All of this physiology – 100 billion […]

Anatomy of an Epidemic (Part One)

Melancholy, of course, visits nearly everyone now and then. “I’m a man, and that is reason enough to be miserable.” wrote the Greek poet Menander in the fourth venture B.C., a sentiment that has been echoed by writers and philosophers ever since. In the 17th century tome Anatomy of Melancholy, English physician Robert Burton advised that everyone “feel the smart of it…. It is most absurd and ridiculous for any mortal man to look for a perpetual tenure of happiness in this life”. It was only when such gloomy states became a “habit”, Burton said, that they became a “disease”. […]

Happy For No Reason (Part Two)

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven” ~John Milton “According to scientists, we have about 60,000 thoughts a day. It is one thought per second during every waking hour. For the average person, 80 % of these habitual thoughts are negative. Every day we have more than 45,000 negative thoughts. Of those 60,000, 95% are the same thoughts you had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Your thoughts aren’t always true. We are so accustomed to believing our thoughts are true and automatically reacting […]