Skepchick Quickies 1.31


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. Having grown up adjacent to Salem, I have visited “Official Witch” Laurie Cabot’s shop on occasion. There is no shortage of woo-filled shops in that area, so I don’t think it will be missed by the tourists. Salem also has a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery from “Bewitched”, installed within the last decade. On the plus side, there are actual historical sites worth seeing, as well as the excellent Peabody Essex Museum.

  2. The article about Aspergers fascinates and slightly worries me. Certainly the diagnosis covers a wide array of different cases, some of which are quite mild, butto me that argues in favor of further research, splitting into subtypes, or modifying the definition, not eliminating it.

    I’m even more concerned about ADHD, in part because I have that diagnosis myself. One the one hand, I can see that there is an argument to be made that ADHD is just a normal human difference, and that, much like one can be grumpy without having a mood disorder or a slow reader without having dyslexia, one could show the symptoms of ADHD without having a “real” disorder. That’s almost a philosophical question as well as a scientific one.

    On the other hand, some people benefit quite significantly from the medication, and at proper dosages the side effects can be quite mild (excepting some debate ablut their effect on the heart).

    And on the gut, irrational, anecdotal level, methylphenidate made a huge difference in my habits and ability to cope with various challenges when I started taking it last year. Regardless of what one calls a “disorder”, I seem to be far better off, and feel far more in control of myself when on the medication when off of it, to the point where I can ignore certain idiosyncrasies of my brain that dogged me all my life. There were things other people could do and I usually couldn’t, and now I usually can.

    Assuming I’m not the only one who feels like this, does that argue we have a disorder that is being treated? Or does it argue that we have “normal” human flaws that we are trying to correct through a form of enhancement? Or do we all just happen to have a constellation of other disorders (that look similar and all respond to the same medication)?

    Either way, I’m somewhat wary about being advised that I’m in a group of overmedicated people, not because I’m worse off when taking the medication, but instead because of a more abstract and general set of philosophical differences between psychiatrists.

    1. I understand your frustration, since I have a similar-looking diagnosis, and my daughter is ADHD (Inattentive Type). She’s not lazy, she’s quite bright, and can become very very focused, but she’s doomed in a loud classroom.

      One argument that I find is lacking in the article is the major antagonism between the psychiatric-medical model, and the psychological-therapeutic model. The DSM is becoming more and more focused on the medical side, which necessitates fancy testing, and lots of drugs. This is good for people with schizophrenia, anxiety, and a host of other disorders proven to respond well to medications. However, there are also disorders which might require more focus on therapy, and as the DSM is used by insurance companies as a guide for what they should and shouldn’t pay for (regardless of what the physician/psychologist/psychiatrist actually recommends), the emphasis on medical leads many people in serious need of therapy sitting out in the cold. It’s less a matter of what they should include, and more of how they’re approaching it.
      This is an example where the medical model just doesn’t work: http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/01/mass_hysteria_in_upstate_new_york_why_lori_brownell_and_13_other_teenage_girls_are_showing_tourette_s_like_symptoms_.html

      Again, I’m not dismissing it. The medical model is great, especially when compared to what we knew even 40 years ago, but it’s not the only or best method of treatment.

      1. I’ve actually had to deal with that somewhat myself, since I just got a new job and switched to their HMO (Kaiser). Switching medications over was fairly simple, but there’s still some uncertainty about what they cover for therapy, as well as additional evaluations. I finally sought help for this last year when I was unemployed (still young enough to be covered by parents’ insurance due to the recent health reform bill, but only while unemployed since it hasn’t phased in completely). I was still strategizing with my psychiatrist about therapy/coaching when I had to make the switch.

        I’m much more self-aware, capable of listening, and focused due to the medication, but still have trouble with making/following plans. My work productivity fluctuates between “superhuman machine” and “did he show up?”, largely because I’m bad at prioritizing when there are more than 3-4 tasks at hand. I also briefly tried Adderall, which actually made this problem worse; I really just need to discuss strategies with someone who knows about which strategies work (and regarding the anxiety all this has incurred).

        Kaiser does have a good reputation for preventative medicine and progressive values (their west coast branch was at one point the only healthcare system in the US with a full nondiscrimination policy including sexual orientation, and they sponsor several pride events, which reassured me since I’m bi). But they are still an HMO, will still try to avoid paying when they don’t feel obligated, and have their share of horror stories. In my case, it’s been a bit frustrating trying to figure out what options I have.

  3. I never thought I would be so happy about an amendment involving a rectal exam!

    The amendment didn’t pass, and to be fair, I wouldn’t actually want to see it made into law, since I don’t want to see even more medical coercion of this kind. But maybe the analogy will make enough people realize how bad these ultrasound laws are.

  4. The rectal exam makes some sense, actually, since a fair amount of erectile dysfunction can come from medical issues in and around the prostate. There isn’t enough attention paid to men’s health issues, and they’ve pushed the prostate exam for most men to past the age of 50 when it used to be started as a matter of course at age 40.

    While medical decisions like that ought to be between the doctor and patient, and the bill was introduced to mock or highlight the lunacy of the ultrasound requirement for abortions, what occurred to me, actually, was that I think there likely aren’t enough rectal exams for men. I’d think of complaining about ED, just to get them to check out the old prostate and other goings on back there, because that’s one of the most likely area for men to have serious medical issues.

    1. “There isn’t enough attention paid to men’s health issues”

      Yeah, that’s not true. Men’s health issues have always been in the forefront, while women’s health issues have been put on the back burner. This is pretty wildly accepted.

      http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/integrate.htm <– And that's just a start.

      That said, I do think, at least in the case of erectile disfunction, that they seem to be throwing a pill at men to give them a hard one, without really paying much attention to the underlying problems that may exist, but that doesn't seem too surprising since it's about sex, so of course the most important thing is the actual sexual act. Our society is obsessed with sex (and that obsession seems to lie mostly with uber conservatives, but that's another topic entirely!). We also like quick-fixes when it comes to these sorts of things, but that is true for a lot of things when it comes to our health (and not just men).

      Important part from the link above: Despite the fact that diseases, such as heart disease, depression, AIDS, affect women and men differently, many medical studies on diseases, treatments, and outcomes whether of low or high cost, short or long-term, have been carried out using all male subjects. It has been alleged that not only has gender bias “infected” medical research, but women have been systematically excluded from medical studies. This is evidenced by the following observations: women were not included in studies of heart disease; lack of funding on diseases which disproportionately affect women, viz. breast cancer; and the safety and efficacy of drugs being tested only on men but which would be dispensed to women as well. It has been reported that the National Institute of Health, the U.S. government’s largest funding organ for medical research, had spent only about 13 percent of its total budget on women’s health issues. A NIH-funded five year Physician’s Health Study on intake of aspirin and reduction of heart attacks had studied 22,071 men and no women. A prospective study on health and ageing included only men during its first twenty years, despite the fact that majority of those over sixty-five years are women. As incredulous as it seems, one Rockefeller University project on the impact of obesity on the tendency for women to develop breast or endometrial cancer had only men as its study subjects [E. Nechas & D. Foley, 1994].

      And that’s just the tip of the ice-burg. Science and medicine doesn’t even *touch* why many, many women aren’t having orgasms; or don’t have a high sex drive. Or, they brush certain ailments off as nothing (depression, chronic fatigue, etc), because such things generally affect women more than men, so it’s not thought of as serious or even a real problem.

      The “not enough attention is paid to men’s health” is just out-right bullshit. I don’t mean to be rude here, but it’s just monumentally not true, and any quick research on the subject will support that.

      1. Perhaps worldwide, but in the US, far more attention is paid to women’s health issues like breast cancer and reproductive health issues than men’s issues. Testicular and prostate cancer are wildly underfunded.

        The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimated that they spent $4.5 billion in 2009 for female-specific cancers (breast cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, etc) and $300,000,000 for men’s cancer, which is a ratio of almost 15:1 in favor of women. For spending in 2009 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cancer Programs, the gap was even greater: they spent $218 million on female-specific cancers and $13.245 million on prostate cancer, which is a ratio of 16.5 to 1 in favor of women. http://report.nih.gov/rcdc/categories/ and http://www.ovaconline.org/OVAC/09/OVAC_FY10_Approps_Request.pdf

        1. “Perhaps worldwide, but in the US, far more attention is paid to women’s health issues like breast cancer and reproductive health issues than men’s issues. Testicular and prostate cancer are wildly underfunded.”

          But that’s just one tiny little subset. When it comes to the larger picture, women’s health is very, very, very much underfunded and understudied. And not just in the US; worldwide.

          In the end, though, we tend to be pretty skewed overall, for both men and women, that I won’t disagree with.

          But when it comes to the larger picture and especially when it comes to history, women’s health is severely lacking in funding and research.

        2. I realize there’s a whole issue of oversensitive complaining and drama about being criticized in public, but I couldn’t let one thing slide.

          Breast cancer IS NOT a FEMALE SPECIFIC cancer. Turns out that all mammals have breast tissue whether they are male or female. Anyone with breast tissue can get breast cancer. Men get breast cancer, end of story.

          So unless you really think the bulk of the cancer research you’re discussing as “for women” goes to cervical/uterine/ovarian cancers, your statistics showing disproportionate funding are basically inflammatory nonsense.

  5. I hate to do this on the public board. But, would a moderator be so kind as to deactivate my account from this blog?

    I’ve determined that the atmosphere is not for me, and I don’t intend to return.

    I want to thank you for letting me post. Cheers and best of luck.

    1. Really? We were having a pretty nice discussion, and I provided you with some solid facts. It seems to me that you can’t really handle being wrong.

      1. Agreed, marilove, your responses were polite and on topic. It takes a special kind of drama llama to make a public post asking for his account to be deactivated instead of just, you know, going to other websites.

        1. Wow – o.k., Ms. Watson. All I did was ask that the account be deactivated. I, too, have been very polite.

          You can go, though, to several other threads and watch marilov telling others to fuck off and/or call them trolls and whatnot.

          Dramallama? Wow…


          You all are something else, that’s for sure.

          1. Although I don’t always agree with Marilove, I’ve never seen her call anyone a troll to FO without provacation.

            And I agree asking your account be de-activated is very diva-ish. Just stop posting.

      2. Well, with all due respect, I posted information from the national institute of health and the centers for disease control which plainly show that in the US the funding for women’s cancers over men’s cancers is around 15:1 or 16.5 :1. That is a tremendous disparity.

        Also, it was not this particular discussion that has caused me to decide to not bother posting here. I looked around the site to a number of threads, and I have seen a level of dogmatism and demagoguery that I did not expect. There is a really habit among many contributors here to lash out very quickly and very aggressively against anyone who doesn’t immediately agree with them (the certain contributors). You being one of them.

        Those certain contributors hurl insults and vulgar curses and profanity at undesirables. It gives one the impression of villagers with torches and pitchforks.

        And, your post there, of course, is along the same vein. For some reason, despite the fact that I’ve done nothing to hurt or attack you, you have to insult me: “It seems to me that you can’t really handle being wrong.”

        One, I’m not wrong. My information is sourced from reliable sources. Two, if I were wrong, I most certainly could “handle” it. I’ve been wrong before, and I’m sure I’ll be wrong again.

        You are a very prolific contributor here, marilove, and I will tell you, since you decided to needle me before I left, that your attitude and contributions, and treatment of others, is a big reason I’ve decided this just isn’t for me. It’s not your stellar and incomparable intellect I’m talking about, or your unassailable rhetorical fortresses — it’s your (and other’s) behavior on the board. It makes the place very unappealing to me.

        Take that for what it’s worth. I don’t care to debate it, as I simply prefer just to move along. It was pointed out to me on another thread here that there are plenty of other sites to go to (implying that ought not let the door hit me in the ass on the way out). I get it. Believe me, I do.

        No hard feelings, and best of luck.

        1. You can’t handle even a little bit of adult language?? You might want to step away from the computer and stay off the internet.

          I didn’t even fully disagree with you! I even contented to some of your points. It’s a complex issue that would require some serious research compiling, which I just don’t have time for. I’d say at the moment, we had a pretty decent draw, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I may not FULLY agree with you, but that’s because I’ve actually read some other research that backs up my point, but I don’t really have the time or desire to get into it at this moment***, so I concede that science and medicine can be pretty skewed and focused on the wrong things (hardons especially).

          And … I thought you weren’t coming back. Nice drama llama flounce, though.

          Honestly, I’m not even going to further respond to your points because you’re just being ridiculous and obnoxious. Just because I didn’t kneel down and lick your boots doesn’t mean I was being rude or vulgar.

          Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits, wow.

          I just had to channel some Carlin vulgarity. If I’m going to be accused of being vulgar, I may as well go for it.

          ***Side note: This is actually a really good topic. I wonder if a Skepchick who is better at reading research would like to take this up and make a post or several posts on the subject of women and men in science/medicine, and where the focus tends to lie? Because at this moment I think we’re at a fairly even draw, but we’re basing both our arguments on very little data.

          1. That’s good….mock the hell out of me as I leave.

            I only posted because you made specific mention of me leaving, taunting me for “not being able to handle it.” And, then the operator of the website, the main force behind it, Ms. Watson, calls me names.

            Look — I’m going to sign off now, and leave you to your hysteria.

            Enjoy, and, again, I do wish you all the best in the future.

          2. I didn’t mock you. I was trying to bring some levity to the subject. Indeed, I even said that we were (at least at the moment) in a pretty even draw, and that I don’t fully disagree with you!

            You’re just being ridiculous at this point, and stomping around because you feel attacked because I provided facts that don’t line up perfectly with your thought processes, even though I in no way attacked or mocked you.

            ” I’m going to sign off now, and leave you to your hysteria.”

            Hysteria? Really? I’m being hysterical? You’re the one that has told me, in this comment thread alone, that you’re leaving and never coming back … but yet you keep coming back.

            Projecting, much??

        2. Ok, I’ll bite, because I’m avoiding work:

          I posted some research that based their findings on more than one study. You provided research based on one thing — cancer. My examples showed a far bigger picture than what yours did. It showed that they were studying men even on things that affect women exclusively! Yet you seem to keep claiming that across the board that the health of men is somehow ignored, and that’s just not true. I agree that cancer sometimes is skewed, but I think that has a lot to do with sexism (boobies!) and marketing (boobies makes money!). There is a problem when it comes to funding for certain cancers, but I’m not sure the reasons are exactly what you think they are. And just to clarify, I dont’ think it’s right to focus more on women than men; there needs to be a better balance over all. But it’s difficult because of so many factors, including marketing/profits.

          The only reason I said “it seems to me that you can’t handle being wrong” is because you flounced and called me vulgar, in reply to my points, when I certainly wasn’t being, instead of focusing on my points. The tone argument is not going to get you anywhere, here.

          Further, you keep saying you’re not coming back, yet you keep coming back! It’s fine if you don’t like it here. You’re not tied to a chair. If you dislike it here so much, why did you even bother commenting again and again, except to get attention?

          Flouncing is wildly known on the internet to be nothing but an attempt to get attention. Hell, I’ve done it before … because sometimes it’s kind of fun to ruffle feathers (I am not perfect).

          1. Also: when one is discussing disparities in cancer funding occurance, morbidity, and mortality rates should also be included. The only time for concern would be when the funding does not correlate with those numbers (much higher or lower than is justified). I think breast cancer PROBABLY is one of those diseases for which the ratio is off, but if you’re gonna come in here basing a whole argument on that (well, that and ENDLESS WHINING) you should bring ALL the salient data points.

          2. “I think breast cancer PROBABLY is one of those diseases for which the ratio is off,

            And I actually agree with you here, and it’s one thing I didn’t take into consideration at first, so I’m glad Mr. Flouncer brought it up. I do think it has more to do with the fact that boobies make money than anything else, though. Marketing has worked well with breast cancer because it’s been so sexualized.

            But when it comes to just about everything else, his arguments start to fall flat. Across the board and through history, women’s health has been (and continues to be) ignored to a large degree.

    1. I’m confused…why does the account have to be deactivated? One could just stop coming to a site one doesn’t want to read any more. It’s not like there’s a Skepchick subscription paywall.

      Bizarre exit strategy, wot?

          1. Marilove: I agree that this is an interesting conversation to have. I have no knowledge on the topic and honestly, I don’t even know what goes on at a general physical medical exam for men and women and what the differences are, let alone the funding/treatment options for men v women that are involved for different ‘ailments’ (for lack of a better word). Oh man, another thing to google…gosh!

          2. I only know a little bit and I’m just not knowledgeable enough to make heads or tails of all the research/data, but I know we have a few people here that should be able to take it on, if they are willing!

        1. But, but, calling a willfully ignorant jackass a stupid donkey is poisoning this place!

          I’ve been called out on a couple threads here recently regarding my tone. I wasn’t nice enough to saopaolo, it seems.

          How do those who are complaining about our manner and demeanor propose dealing with dunderheaded bumblefucks?

          Because, in all seriousness, I’ve been holding back.

          1. Yeah, that’s what gets me. I’m the hysterical one, but I’m just not being nice enough to him? Yeah, he’s really classy, calling a woman hysterical just because she disagrees with him and isn’t all cuddly and rainbows about it. The funny thing is that I was even trying to be nice, at least to begin with. Then he just got all butthurt and flouncey even when I was very, very respectful to him in the first couple of comments. At that point I knew it was pointless, because he was going to get offended no matter how I said it. He isn’t all that bright, though, and I think he just gets upset whenever someone proves him wrong. Which is always. Or at least the few times he got the nerve to comment, anyway.

          2. Give ’em enough rope, I reckon.

            His opening comment (Reddit thread): “Those of a more sensitive nature may wish to find a different website to post on.”

            Oh, the bitter irony and epic butthurt.

            What a sensitive little flower he turned out to be.

            Well played, indeed, ladies!

  6. My biggest concern with the change to the proposed changes to the DSM is our educational system is broken. And it is a hell of a lot easier to make sure kids are given an appropriate education with you can categorize them on the DSM. I fear a lot more kids will fall through the cracks.

  7. It’s the people voting for the ultrasounds as a prerequisite for abortion that need the rectal exams. We desperately need to find where they’ve stashed their brains.

    1. Too bad flouncey flounced because this is really good information. Too bad he’s just not interested in actual debate :(

      But thank you for the info. I find this fascinating. I hope someone takes up my request to write about this. Maybe I can find time eventually.

  8. Okay, I’m a little confused about the abortion-ultrasound thing. Why are they requiring an ultrasound in the first place? Is it just to make the procedure more expensive and complicated, or some kind of “make them see what they’re ‘killing'” gambit, or am I missing something else? I mean, I’m not quite expecting /logic/ from anti-abortionists, but I do feel like they had to have thought up extra shittiness behind this past what I already listed.

    1. Is it just to make the procedure more expensive and complicated, or some kind of “make them see what they’re ‘killing’” gambit…

      Both. It’s a common tactic for conservatives. Since they can’t ban abortion, they try to add regulations to it to make it more difficult, more expensive, take longer to get, and be more emotionally manipulative. There are already states where abortion is almost completely impossible thanks to this type of maneuvering (though I can’t recall specific examples off the top of my head) – one place in the state that performs abortions, only a few days a week.

      And you shouldn’t expect logic from them; expect rationalization. Don’t expect harm reduction; expect moral absolutism. Of course, this is just the most extreme cases. You can still often convince moderate anti-choicers through logic. But you can never reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themself into. Best to mock, make their position look ridiculous (and how easy it is!), and discourage fence-sitters from joining their camp.

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