Thursday, February 24, 2011

one great keynote speech

Ever since I encountered the peas and Mendel, genetics have (has?) fascinated me. And then I took a class in psychology and got even more interested. The whole idea of genetics, penetration of inheritance and dominant alleles seemed so logical at the first glance. I like logic. I like to calculate prediction. It all seemed so easy with the green and yellow peas.

Then I took psych 201, and genetics 401... and then the waters got muddled. Why? Well, mainly since there are many alleles that work together (I know, so odd... duh). And the notion that penetrance is very variable (in many cases). The fact that many diseases, or illnesses or syndromes (which ever word to choose) are multi-factorial reared its head made things less black and white and more grey.

It's one of the reasons I guess I like the Glenn Close infomercial as much as I do. I know, it's not really a "Glenn Close infomercial". It's the "Bring change 2 mind infomercial". About diagnosable mental illnesses. And the stigma associated with this type of illness. Mainly (?) due to all the wonderful movies and books about serial killers and other heinous criminals who usually suffer from a mental illness and therefore makes it easy to easily think that "the person diagnosed with either illness is therefore unfit and dangerous to either society or people around them". Not that this is necessarily untrue in certain cases. However, looking at the statistics the person mostly likely to come to harm is the person affected by the illness... and the family by proxy (mainly due to stigma as well as being the responsible one for the care taking... and therefore also affected by stigma).

I admire Glenn Close (she also was Keynote speaker at the Conference of Neuroscience 2010 in San Diego in November 2010). (in the last link, you can click and hear the speech, which is one of the best ones I've heard....If you have time, I really recommend it. Especially since her sister and nephew are speaking too - very powerful. And the principals in the end - about 1 hour in the video, just in the end of the speech. The doctors in the discussion part of the opening also mentions the fact that the number of suicides in the US today is still very high - and wonder what would happen if it wasn't as much of a stigma associated with mental illness... and, as I previously mentioned above, that most people affected by these type of illnesses do harm to themselves primarily, not others.) In fact, I admire all of the people in the infomercial who wore the t-shirt either saying "Name of the illness" or "relative of illness". And all this in the middle of Grand Central Station in New York, and being filmed to put on country wide tv spots.

Main problem, imho, would be that people "know" that mental illness is genetic, and inherited, and therefore if you tell someone that someone in your family is affected... it means you may be affected too... and that makes you a loony... (or, as some of us would like to call it - an affected individual). And who wants to be with a non-perfect person who is genetically at risk for being ill? Never mind the little thing that a) it can be medicated and treated b) penetrance is usually not 100% so you don't know if you are the person affected... or might never be... if this makes a difference?

This may be one of the reasons why it's so hard for people who go through things like this to tell friends (or others). "Out themselves and others". It's so much more than only telling of "my father had a heart attack" (don't many people get that?) or "my mother has high blood pressure" (that's affected by weight and stress, right?)... not to mention that telling about your family means you're telling "someone elses secret while explaining what you go through". Not an easy thing to deal with.

Numbers mentioned in the speech are that 1 in 4 is affected by mental illness, when you consider families. Interesting. It's like that everyone has a drunk uncle/aunt at the wedding party.... right?

(note; I know this is a few months late, I just forgot about writing a post about it back in November)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hockey pool week 20

(In my Inbox earlier tonight.... " *cough* hockey pool update *cough* ") ... Thanks for the reminder Cath!! :)

So, the abysmal (hrm) I mean Wonderful week of 20 in this hockey pool sees us with Bob being the winner of the week; Woho! Lavaland coming in on a second place, Cath and Thomas sharing third (very close with 26 points), Ricardipus fifth, ScientistMother and myself barely not sharing last place with Gerty (only one point difference so.... not too far at all there).

Overall the slopes are looking better than last week.... Lavaland in a certain lead, Bob getting into second place (Ricardipus moving back a place to third). A gaggle of geese in the middle (trying out when I can use this wonderful phrase) and Thomas picking up the best slope for the week (if you look at the picture imho). Gerty and I are feeling the pressure (well, I am at least... dropping from my nice slopes in the beginning and all... hmmm.)

(and I am really terrible at making graphs in numbers.... sorry about this non-fancy one).

Sunday, February 06, 2011

dress rehearsal of the call...

I found out a while back that the mother of one of my friends was released from the hospital since "there was nothing more they could do, the chemo didn't work". My friend doesn't know when to leave her current location - she doesn't live in the same city - and to go back to her parents and be with them. It's not across the ocean but the dilemma is the same... when do you leave all you have to go back to family? When to take out that saved vacation, the unpaid leave, or simply leaving the job behind to your co-workers?

(rest gone to poof due to too private stuff. but it¨s why I haven't been posting for a while. need to figure out things.)