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Analysis and Comment (37)

Introverted and A-type? We’re not that easily categorised. Introverted and A-type? We’re not that easily categorised. Ivana Vasilj/Flickr

Introvert or extrovert, normal or abnormal: the problem with personality types

The idea that people can be classified into types has a long history. Writing 23 centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Theophrastus sketched 30 characters that are instantly recognisable to this day. They…
Therapy helps patients gradually confront situations, places and activities they’ve avoided since the traumatic event. Therapy helps patients gradually confront situations, places and activities they’ve avoided since the traumatic event. Bill Strain/Flickr

Treating post-traumatic stress disorder: confronting the horror

While human beings have always known about the mental health effects of trauma, it was only in 1980 that the term post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, was coined. This acceptance spawned an explosion…
People who attribute mental illness to brain disease or genes tend to blame affected people less, but see them as more hopeless and dangerous. People who attribute mental illness to brain disease or genes tend to blame affected people less, but see them as more hopeless and dangerous. lauren rushing/Flickr

Brains, genes and chemical imbalances – how explanations of mental illness affect stigma

Depression, schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions are increasingly linked to abnormalities in the brain and in our genes. Many professionals believe these developments hold the key to better treatments…
Past failures cannot detract from the significance of documenting current abuses of children Past failures cannot detract from the significance of documenting current abuses of children Stephen Mitchell

Back to the future: revisiting the treatment of child asylum seekers

The 1,000-plus children currently detained in immigration detention facilities in Australia and Nauru are at risk of serious mental health and developmental problems. The Human Rights Commission this week…
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who starred in Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, who starred in Silver Linings Playbook. Warren Toda/EPA

Mental illness on screen – a new world of hopes and aspirations

It is a basic tenet of mainstream filmmaking that you want the audience to identify with your protagonist: to go on an emotional journey with them, to empathise with them. What, then, are the particular…
Excess dopamine activity is not the only neurological change seen in patients with schizophrenia. Excess dopamine activity is not the only neurological change seen in patients with schizophrenia. Image from shutterstock.com

Why we shouldn’t ditch the quest for new schizophrenia drugs

The landscape of pharmaceutical development for mental disorders has changed over recent years, with pharma companies abandoning traditional neuroscience drug discovery programs and turning instead to…
Emotional fallout: undervalued, paid less and under pressure to look good. Emotional fallout: undervalued, paid less and under pressure to look good. Christine Cassis

Women suffer more from mental illness but it suits us to ignore it

Martin Baggaley pulled no punches last week in his assessment of the dire state of mental health. The Medical Director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust said the system was in crisis, inefficient…
Borderline personality disorder is characterised by problems regulating emotions and thoughts. Borderline personality disorder is characterised by problems regulating emotions and thoughts. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: what is borderline personality disorder?

We all possess a unique set of personality traits that make us who we are. These are the usual ways we perceive, think, feel, behave and relate to others, and they tend to be consistent across time and…
People with intellectual disabilities are detained indefinitely under WA laws. People with intellectual disabilities are detained indefinitely under WA laws. Shutterstock

‘Unfit to plead’: why does the law jail those with intellectual disabilities indefinitely?

People with intellectual disabilities who are found to be “unfit to plead” are still locked away for years on end in Western Australia. Similarly, in the Northern Territory, this detention occurs in prison…
The majority of diagnoses for depression, anxiety and PTSD are made by GPs who don’t use the DSM criteria. The majority of diagnoses for depression, anxiety and PTSD are made by GPs who don’t use the DSM criteria.

DSM-5 won’t increase mental health work claims – here’s why

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has copped the predicted criticisms since its release on the weekend. Most centre on the idea that more of us will…
Only half of paranormal or mystical experiences are associated with a mental disorder. Only half of paranormal or mystical experiences are associated with a mental disorder. Image from shutterstock.com

Hauntings, ESP and mystical visions: counselling after paranormal experiences

Sarah dreads falling asleep. Moments after she closes her eyes, her body becomes paralysed, and she is unable to move no matter how hard she tries. This has been going on almost every night for three weeks…
Clinicians must use their judgement and look beyond the narrow debate about whether mental illnesses have a biological or psychosocial basis. Clinicians must use their judgement and look beyond the narrow debate about whether mental illnesses have a biological or psychosocial basis. crises_crs/Flickr

Despite the critics, psychiatrists need guidelines like the DSM-5

This weekend saw the release of the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). The manual has been attracting controversy throughout its revision…
The DSM-5 doesn’t attempt to define what is “normal”; and having a DSM diagnosis is not the same as being “insane”. The DSM-5 doesn’t attempt to define what is “normal”; and having a DSM diagnosis is not the same as being “insane”. Image from shutterstock.com

Mental disorders: debunking some myths of the DSM-5

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is due to hit psychiatrists' and psychologists' shelves next month. Produced by the American Psychiatric…
People with schizophrenia are still perceived as dangerous and unpredictable, and these perceptions have increased in recent years. People with schizophrenia are still perceived as dangerous and unpredictable, and these perceptions have increased in recent years. JD Hancock

Either mad and bad or Jekyll and Hyde: media portrayals of schizophrenia

Stigma can take a heavy toll on people who suffer from mental illness. Being shunned, feared, devalued and discriminated against can impair recovery and deepen social isolation and distress. Many sufferers…
Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano in Silver Linings Playbook. Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano in Silver Linings Playbook. Roadshow Publicity

Romcom’s silver lining is its portrayal of mental illness

From Psycho onward, film portrayals of the mentally ill have contributed to the stigma faced by people with these conditions. Films tend to create and reinforce stereotypes of the mentally ill as “homicidal…
Without treatment, half of PTSD sufferers experience chronic problems that can last for decades. Without treatment, half of PTSD sufferers experience chronic problems that can last for decades. marcusjroberts

Explainer: what is post-traumatic stress disorder?

People have probably always known about the psychological effects of experiencing life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, or violent assault. Literature through the ages – some…
Governments, industry and communities must work together to address suicide risk factors for FIFO/DIDO workers. Governments, industry and communities must work together to address suicide risk factors for FIFO/DIDO workers. AAP/Bagus Indahono

Mining, fly-in, fly-out workers and the risk of suicide

Barely a week passes without media coverage of some aspect of the real or perceived impacts of fly-in fly-out (FIFO) and drive-in drive-out (DIDO) work, especially in the mining sector. We hear about the…
The risk of PTSD is determined by the frequency and severity of the potentially traumatic events. The risk of PTSD is determined by the frequency and severity of the potentially traumatic events. AAP

Reliving the pain of war: military deployment and PTSD

Serving on operational deployments in conflict zones carries not only the obvious physical threats, it also poses significant mental health risks. While depression and anxiety disorders are common among…
Trials show ketamine acts more quickly than other antidepressants because it affects different parts of the brain. Trials show ketamine acts more quickly than other antidepressants because it affects different parts of the brain. JLM Photography

Special K: ketamine’s road from tranquilliser to possible antidepressant

The drug ketamine has been used for medical purposes since it was developed in the 1960s, but it is perhaps more widely known for its illicit use as a hallucinogenic tranquiliser. Now we’re beginning to…
Over seven million Australian adults have experienced a mental illness. Over seven million Australian adults have experienced a mental illness. Image from shutterstock.com

Mental health report card: it’s time to address quality of life

The National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) today released its first annual report card on the state of mental health and suicide prevention services in Australia. Called A Contributing Life, the report…
People who were abused as children are more likely to suffer mental health and substance abuse disorders. People who were abused as children are more likely to suffer mental health and substance abuse disorders. Dawn Ashley

Protecting the abused from further trauma during the Royal Commission

There is great support within the community for the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. Many people have high hopes it will right the wrongs of the past and help us, as a nation, to eliminate future…
Many of us feel that our internet use verges on problematic but this is different to addiction. Many of us feel that our internet use verges on problematic but this is different to addiction. justingaynor

Internet use and the DSM-5’s revival of addiction

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. The term “addiction” is conspicuously…
The cosy relationship between the psychiatry and Big Pharma has come under increasing scrutiny. The cosy relationship between the psychiatry and Big Pharma has come under increasing scrutiny. Hannah Nicole Aspire

Depression, drugs and the DSM: a tale of self-interest and public outrage

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. In Australia, antidepressant…
It’s normal to have recurring waves of grief after the loss of a loved one but prolonged, severe grief requires treatment. It’s normal to have recurring waves of grief after the loss of a loved one but prolonged, severe grief requires treatment. white ribbons

Why prolonged grief should be listed as a mental disorder

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. Grief is one of the most universal…
As an adolescent and child psychiatrist, I dispense all sorts of labels – but what do they mean? As an adolescent and child psychiatrist, I dispense all sorts of labels – but what do they mean? emildom

Psychiatric labels and kids: benefits, side-effects and confusion

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist…
Overall, there will be fewer symptoms and disorders listed in the new psychiatry manual. Overall, there will be fewer symptoms and disorders listed in the new psychiatry manual. Axel Buhrmann

Redefining autism in the DSM-5

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. For autistic people and their…
Trichotillomania, where individuals pull out their hair, has long been considered a mental disorder, but where does it fit in the DSM-5? Trichotillomania, where individuals pull out their hair, has long been considered a mental disorder, but where does it fit in the DSM-5? Tigresblanco

Don’t pull your hair out over trichotillomania

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. Trichotillomania is a psychological…
The inclusion of hoarding on the DSM-5 will drive an integrated response to this complex problem. The inclusion of hoarding on the DSM-5 will drive an integrated response to this complex problem. Hoarding Grap Wikimedia Commons

When stuff gets in the way of life: hoarding and the DSM-5

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. We’ve all got boxes of old letters…
Many non-western cultures recognise states of mind that look like mental illness but don’t fit DSM categories. Many non-western cultures recognise states of mind that look like mental illness but don’t fit DSM categories. Todd Huffman

Strange or just plain weird? Cultural variation in mental illness

MATTERS OF THE MIND – a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. There’s an old saying that psychology…
Criteria for mental health disorders have been formulated by expert committees. But are they right? Criteria for mental health disorders have been formulated by expert committees. But are they right? Psychiatry image from shutterstock

Explainer: what is the DSM and how are mental disorders diagnosed?

Welcome to Matters of the Mind, a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. The Diagnostic and…
The symptom-based approach of the current DSM does not take life events into account. The symptom-based approach of the current DSM does not take life events into account. Woman image from shutterstock.com

Forget talking, just fill a script: how modern psychiatry lost its mind

Welcome to Matters of the Mind, a series which examines the clinician’s bible for diagnosing mental disorders, the DSM, and the controversy surrounding the forthcoming fifth edition. You’re feeling down…
Each of the 100 billion nerve cells in the brain makes an average of 1,000 connections with other neurons. Each of the 100 billion nerve cells in the brain makes an average of 1,000 connections with other neurons. Zachary Veach

The promise and challenges of biomarkers for mental illnesses

The human brain is the location of personality, emotion, learning and wisdom in a unique individual. It contains 100 billion nerve cells – roughly the same number as there are galaxies in the observable…
Despite a growth in the study of homelessness, significant gaps remain in our understanding of it. Despite a growth in the study of homelessness, significant gaps remain in our understanding of it. Flickr/Davco9200

Caught in a longterm cycle: homelessness in Australia

In Australia the homeless population has become more diverse over the last 20 years, with more young people, women and families experiencing homelessness. This has led to a growth in the study of homelessness…

Research and News (5)

Research Briefs (5)