RE: [xmca] RE: mental health

From: Peter Smagorinsky <smago who-is-at uga.edu>
Date: Sun Jul 13 2008 - 06:43:35 PDT

My sense is that medications can allow space for higher mental functions,
which might otherwise be choked off by panic attacks and other responses.

Peter Smagorinsky
The University of Georgia
125 Aderhold Hall
Athens, GA 30602
smago@uga.edu/phone:706-542-4507
http://www.coe.uga.edu/lle/faculty/smagorinsky/index.html

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On
Behalf Of Achilles Delari Junior
Sent: Saturday, July 12, 2008 8:05 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: RE: [xmca] RE: mental health

Peter, thank you, very much.
 
I strongly agree with your position, not only agree but
I'm learning a lot with you. I wonder that medication can not
directlly affect highter mental funtions, not in semantic/
ideologic organization of conciousness. I agree with
Volochinov/Bakhtin's postition (in his wor "Freudism")
that human conflicts are ideological/not strictly biological
in its constitution...
Maybe I was remarking the need to socially overcome "sad
passions", more than the really essential need to socially
enpower "glad passions"... (in spnozian terms). There is
no the first process without the second one. I know.
I only don┤t know how yet. Not exactly. I belive that
many people alread have this know-how. I wish to learn...
I can try. Now I have important references here, then
I must organize myself. =)
 
Thank you.
 
Oh. Please. I couldn't access the file... When I try, apears
this message:
You don't have permission to access
/hold5yr/cook_leslie_s_200408_phd/cook_leslie_s_200408_phd.pdf on this
server
What can I do?
 
Best, Achilles
Umuarama, July, 12 2008.
 
> From: smago@uga.edu> To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu> Subject: RE: [xmca] RE:
mental health> Date: Sat, 12 Jul 2008 09:12:53 -0400> > Achilles, again I
speak largely from experience here. I think that there's a> balance between
attending to the neuroatypical issues (autism, bipolar> disorder, etc.) and
attending to what's more strictly on the outside (other> people's attitudes,
the social arrangement of material surroundings that> channel thinking about
difference--see, e.g., accommodations for physically> handicapped people). >
> What we argue in the book excerpt, and what Leslie argues, is that it's>
vitally important to create mediational contexts that both contribute to
new> settings (when there are wheelchair ramps, being wheelchair-bound
appears to> all to be less of a handicap) and new ways for people to think
about> themselves; or as some research suggests (see Damasio in our review
below),> new ways for the brain to encode perceptions.> > This is not to say
that some conditions do not require additional attention.> I take a
medication for anxiety, and many people I know take antipsychotics,>
depression medications, and so on. Undoubtedly there's some
overprescription> of such meds, but many of us are glad to have the option.>
> One thing seems certain: We need more research in this area, so I
strongly> encourage you to extend your investigation! Best,Peter> > > >
-----Original Message-----> From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu
[mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On> Behalf Of Achilles Delari Junior>
Sent: Friday, July 11, 2008 7:36 PM> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity>
Subject: RE: [xmca] RE: mental health> > > Thank you, very much Peter...> >
"Cook (2004) argues that relying simply on medication and counseling > is
inadequate; that a broader environmental change that enables an >
understanding and tolerance of difference, and gives young people > tools
for managing their difference, is essential to helping young people >
construct positive lives for themselves and in turn contribute to a more >
humane society."> > It's a beautiful and deep contribution. I really agree
with this> orientation. > But, let me ask you: don’t you think that could
exist a subtle distinction > between (a) “tolerance of difference related to
inclusive education” and > (b) “(self)tolerance of mental pain”? I think
about my own experience: > there are several moments in which I don't only
accept my different > (dysfunctional) process, but desire overcome/master
it... There are four > hyperbolic semiotic process that I recognize (and
struggle with) in BAD > (bipolar affective disorder):
{paranoia<->megalomania} (mania) X > (depression) {self-moralist<->suicide
ideation}. And I know that if social > others learn to comprehend and accept
these different semiotic ways of> means world and my own experience,
changing "social situation" by> inter-mental mediation, my own personal
sense for this process can be > transformed. But, even so, a paranoid
delirium not always can be only > accepted. If we could understand
cultural-historical genetical roots of > mental pain, can we do something to
not only accept it, but even > overcome/replace its dysfunctional
social/personal consequences?> Here, ariseesthe problem of “psykhotekhnika”
again, an approach that > not only explains psychic process as function of
social relations, but> socially > (and deliberately) constructs it too… > >
Personally talking, seems to be not too easy to me to engage myself> in
social relations that could actually produce important functional > (and
structural-dynamical) changes in my life - even more, since I > haven’t
control about multiple social and biological determinations.> Things seems
turns better or worse more in a casual than a determinist > way. But, by
epistemological principles and with an emotional need to hope,> I know that
social formation of mind is open to co-construction/>
inter-constitution/co-existence (sobytie)… Along the years, Vygotsky’s>
claims > (to create new psychology and new means to make people’s life
better) > make me take this problem of psychology applied to mental health
as a kind> of personal and professional challenge to my own mental
(cognitive/> affective) > resources… (but sorry about my "ecogentric
language" here, righ now, i will> control me better in future)> > Oh, sure.
One more operational question. Let me ask: is this “dissertation > of Leslie
Cook” (“who looked at young women with depressive disorders > and the
mediational means they use to make sense of their lives”) > available in any
digital midia?> > Thank you very much, for this opportunity of
inter-constitution. I must > organize my reading tasks now, there are very
important contributions of all> > you here.> > Achilles> Umuarama, July, 11
2008.> > From: smago@uga.edu> To: xmca@weber.ucsd.edu> Subject: RE: [xmca]
RE:> mental health> Date: Fri, 11 Jul 2008 15:24:52 -0400> > Achilles asks:
> Can> we really creat semiotical means to produce better mental health to
people?> Or this kind of a goal is a mistake like possible Vygotsky┤s or
perhaps some> Vygotsky's followers' mistakes about 'social engeneering'?> >
I would say> YES to the first question. I'll take a shortcut and paste
something in below> from a book I've coauthored about The Discourse of
Character Education> (Erlbaum, 2005, with Joel Taxel). It draws on the
dissertation of Leslie> Cook, who looked at young women with depressive
disorders and the> mediational means they use to make sense of their lives.
My apologies for> the length of the following excerpt.> > > Mental Health
and Character> Education> We have briefly expressed our concern that the
issue of mental> health is virtually absent from discussions about character
education. Yet> many students who come to school with a mental health
problems are treated> as discipline problems of the sort measured as indexes
of low character in> the proposals we have studied. We believe that it is
important for any> character education initiative to recognize and account
for mental health in> its conception of good character, both for those with
nonnormative makeups> and those with whom they interact.> Mental health is
the elephant in the> character education closet. The World Health
Organization (2001) reports> that about 7.5 million children in the U.
S.—12% of all children under> 18—have mental disorders, nearly half of which
lead to serious disability.> Jamison (1997) found that 20% of high school
students had seriously> considered committing suicide during the year prior
to his study, with most> having drawn up a suicide plan; suicide is the #3
cause of death of> teenagers between 15 and 19 years of age, often following
from a depressive> disorder. Yet most parents and teachers feel that mental
health issues are> poorly addressed in schools (Dowling & Pound, 1994;
Rappaport & Carolla,> 1999), many teachers have little understanding of how
to recognize or> respond to students with mental health problems (Madison,
1996), and only> recently has mental health been identified as a reason to
develop an> Individual Education Plan (IEP) for students.> These widespread>
misunderstandings have resulted in many such students being regarded as>
troublesome or lacking character in schools. Yet, as reporter Anne Imse>
(1999) wrote following the Columbine school shooting tragedy, > Even teens>
as dangerously troubled as Eric Harris stand a good chance of slipping>
through the cracks in Jefferson County and across Colorado, failing to get>
badly needed mental health care. There are serious roadblocks to getting>
treatment for sick kids [including]> • State prohibitions against law>
enforcement agencies telling schools about a problem kid unless there's a>
conviction; > • Schools worrying about being saddled with psychiatric bills>
if they recommend treatment, or even being sued; > • Not enough money>
earmarked for counselors and counseling for the state's youth. > So, even>
though Jefferson County school officials have become more sensitive to
kids'> mental states . . . they remain hamstrung about arranging treatment.
"We> have no place to go with them," said Clark Bencomo, a counselor at
Green> Mountain High School. "All we can do is suspend or expel." "We are>
oftentimes reduced to putting a kid in a place where they're safe, but it's>
not the right program," added Kay Cessna, intervention services director
for> Jefferson County schools. "There are not enough places." [One parent of
a> child with disabilities complained], "They don't have the time, the>
manpower, and they don't get it.">
(http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/shooting/0516ment2.shtml) > Cook
(2004)> finds this problem occurring in other states as well, reporting
that> students with mental health problems are often put in special
education> programs or disciplined when they act out, either as a
consequence of their> makeup (e.g., a child with Tourette’s syndrome’s
involuntary profanity) or> in response to the taunting they face from their
peers.> Yet a mental health> professional would surely argue that the
problem is not a lack of character> and the solution is not to punish
students with mental health problems.> Rather, a broader understanding of
mental health among students and> faculty—the sort of attention to climate
we found in the states from the> Upper Midwest—would contribute to a more
sympathetic and less punitive> environment for such students in school.
Indeed, Damasio (1994) argues in> his somatic-marker theory against the
classic Cartesian mind/body binary,> instead positing that brain and body
are integrally related not just to one> another but to the environment. A
change in the environment, he finds, may> contribute to changes in how a
person processes new information (cf. Luria,> 1979; Pert, 1997); that is, in
response to developments in the surroundings,> the brain will encode
perceptions in new kinds of ways. > Conceivably, then,> changes in school
climate can contribute to the emotional well-being of> students whose mental
makeup falls outside the normal range. The therapy for> such students is
still widely debated. While medication and counseling have> benefited many
with nonnormative makeups in their relationships with others,> the medical
model has been criticized because it assumes that a normative> mental state
is best for all. This criticism frequently comes up in debates> about
whether medications for Attention Deficit Disorder are prescribed too> often
for any students who have difficulty focusing in school. Some argue> that
prescribing such medications is designed more to increase the comfort>
levels of those around such students than to help those students>
themselves.> The jury is still out concerning the question of whether
people> with such diagnoses are sick and in need of medicine. Cook (2004)
argues> that relying simply on medication and counseling is inadequate; that
a> broader environmental change that enables an understanding and tolerance
of> difference, and gives young people tools for managing their difference,
is> essential to helping young people construct positive lives for
themselves> and in turn contribute to a more humane society. Taking a
punitive approach> to difference, she argues, is regressive and only makes
life more fragile> for those characterized as different and more emotionally
and cognitively> unhealthy for those who surround them.> >>
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Received on Sun Jul 13 06:44 PDT 2008

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