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A Note on Electro-Convulsive Therapy

by

Minna vander Pfaltz & James L. Secor

Let us be real here and not PC. What I am talking about is electrical currents being cast over your brain under cover of therapeutic treatment of depression, suicidal ideation, mania and “other mental illnesses.” This is what ECT is. It is mild electrocution. It is blasting a brain with more volts and amps than you can get by sticking your fingers into an electrical socket in your home. And it is called medicine.

This voltage greater than that used to power your house is touted on the high bandwagon of snake oil salesmen as the Gold Standard of treatment for depression, suicidal ideation, mania and “other mental illnesses.” How are we to believe these insurance industry-laden non-medical men who have enlisted Dr. Oz to sell this horror as good and right? Dr. Oz has been found to be a snake oil salesman, in down home terminology, by a Senate Committee. Dr. Oz will sell whatever it is he’s paid to peddle. Ever notice how everything, absolutely everything Dr. Oz sells is the best? The answer to whatever ails you? Even if “yesterday” he said the same about a different product?

Dr. Oz, and the health industry, are marketing things that are enhancements rather than treatments that will improve functioning, individual and social functioning. As such, it can be said the health industry is marketing disease, since it isn’t curing anything, in this instance. (Cf. David Healy in Mania: A short history of bipolar disorder. Balto.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008, pp. 22-23. Though he speaks eloquently to this aspect of the pharmaceutical industry throughout, noting that it began much earlier, perhaps in the middle of the last century.)

From the 1930s to the 1970s electro-convulsive therapy was the Gold Standard for depression and schizophrenia and, cynically, whatever behavior that the status quo did not accept or wish to tolerate. And it got a bad name. A well-deserved bad name. People lost their memories. They lost the ability to find words. They became disoriented and depressed and they committed suicide. Everything electro-convulsive therapy is supposed to cure. The manner of administration was horrid. Medieval, some said. And it fell out of favor.

And then, suddenly, in the early 21st century electro-convulsive therapy was again hailed as the Gold Standard for the cure of depression, suicidal ideation, mania and “other mental illnesses.” Without a study to back up the PR. Without a trial to support the PR. Without any case reports or empirical data or evidence-based medicine. After a 30-year hiatus, enough for people to forget and a new set of medical personnel with no historical knowledge or experience to rise up and take big PHRMA and the health industry PR at face value and follow scientifically wanting randomized control trials (RCT) parading as truth and proof (Cf. Healy, pp. 128-35, 217 and 231-33). It is true that the administration of the shock therapy is very much more humane than before; but you are still strapped down and the side-effects are still the same. I think the new bandwagon selling of mild electrocution might be akin to The Emperor’s New Clothes.

In all those 30 years, there have been no further studies. None. And, in truth, there have been none since only continued RCTs and no gathering together of the findings—bo0th negative and positive—to prove a cure. With the multifarious illnesses electro-convulsive shock therapy is supposed to cure, the variables to be dealt with and overcome must be near to uncountable. That is to say, not all mental disorders are of the same etiology and also do not present with the same neuro-electro-chemical signature. Instead, there have been rehashed versions of past numbers (findings) that enhance marketing—and considerable rhetorical shenanigans.

In fact, there have been no studies at all as to electro-convulsive therapy’s efficacy past the hawked “quick and temporary fix.” That is, no publicly produced long term studies of the efficacy of mild electrocution on depression. Why? The bandwagon leaders and their bought and paid for medical salesmen say right up front that electrifying your brain is a “quick and temporary fix” for depression. And then go on to say that electro-convulsive therapy is the Gold Standard for curing depression, suicidal ideation, mania and “other mental illnesses.” Without the proof. Just because they say so. And it’s both?

Cure, cure, cure! Have I got a cure for you!

Unfortunately, these bandwagon slyboots do not have horses hitched to their wagons so we can stampede the beasts of burden and rid ourselves of the electric neon rhetoric that colors the truth.

The truth? Fully 50% of electrocuted depressives regress after six months or more. For people with Bipolar I this rises significantly. And this is a positive result? So positive that the electric cure is a Gold Standard? There is no doubt as to why this is not a commonly known outcome.

We don’t hear of these results because the used car salesmen’s voices are louder and the proponents of electro-convulsive therapy are more powerful, rejecting every finding but their RCT, even if the RCT does not disprove the null hypothesis. (Null hypotheses are never disproven; they are falsified in a particular given situation.) And dialectical materialism can be made to prove whatever is wanted. For instance, if 50 of the patients receiving electro-convulsive therapy improve and 40 of those receiving a placebo improve, the bandwagon salesmen, who have alot to lose, maintain electro-convulsive therapy works. But does it? A 10 person difference is not significant because chance occurrence is not ruled out. Chance must be ruled out for validity. Plus, the sameness (or differentness) of the two samples is not known. In fact, there are so many unknown variables that no conclusion can truly be drawn proving electro-convulsive therapy is more effective than nothing. But the snake oil salesmen don’t care. As long as they outshout their detractors they are right, even though they are not.

And herein, in study populations, lies a major problem: these bandwagon salesmen plunk all depressions into the same basket. As if to say depression is depression. In fact, depressions differ. Bipolar I depression is of a different sort than major depression. Bipolar I and major depression are two different diseases. Bipolar I is closer, chemically, biologically to schizophrenia than it is to major depression. Bipolar I depression can be psychotic depression; not so Major Depressions’ depression. But when your provender is money and prestige, who the hell cares about such differences?

Again, artists and non-creatives are lumped together when it is known, for a fact, the character, the personality and the brain electro-chemistry are different.

How successful is early intervention compared to late intervention? If both are intermingled, there can be no valid findings.

Males and females? White, black, oriental? Young and old and middle aged? First timers versus repeaters?

If none of these variables are taken into consideration, then nothing of any worth can be said about electro-convulsive therapy. And if they are ignored, the peddled findings are scientifically invalid.

I know a writer who was considered a good candidate for electro-convulsive therapy because he had not written for two and a half years. The presumption was that he was depressed. He was not. He ran through a three-month long mixed type episode followed by two months of depression, two months of anxiety determined to be a manic episode, Lithium that became toxic causing transitory encephalopathic symptoms. He then had a TIA of indeterminate origin followed by major surgery. Anaesthesia made him depressed, he was being weaned from another medication for control of depression that was not working, and the pain medication created havoc with his moods. When he gave up this medication, his mood improved to a mild mixed type expression and his rehabilitation progress improved dramatically. Three months later, after a lamictal-induced mania and overdose of lorazapam in an attempt to quieten the manic fury, he began writing again and has continued to write, even through a mild depression (dysthymia?). None of this contextual information was taken into consideration in determining his eligibility for electro-convulsive therapy. Two and a half years of no writing equaled unremitting depression. The only proven characteristic about him, proven by history, was having treatment-resistant depression. But, luckily, he was turned away when he was found to be Bipolar I. The doctors were only interested in major depression. It’s easier to deal with.

Was the lorazapam overdose simply an attempt to ameliorate his pressured mind- frenzy or was it another end-of-it-all endeavor? The happy electro-convulsive therapy doctors didn’t ask. If this was another suicide attempt, as the ER staff suspected, this would be the third attempt. Electro-convulsive therapy does not stop “future” suicide attempts/successes, though the hucksters maintain it cures it while maintaining it is only a “quick and temporary fix.”

These doctors were practicing bad science. But, then, electro-convulsive therapy is bad science.

One of the major players and early supporters of Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression in people with Bipolar I no longer considers DBS. She is now a cheerleader for electro-convulsive therapy. Why? There is more money in it. More grant money. More professional recognition. More academic credentialing. Strutting is apparently more important than relieving the pain and distress of people who have suffered for years. People who have ruined lives. People who are ruining the lives of others. People who have become social problems. People who are more likely to kill themselves than manic depressives, schizophrenics, OCD sufferers, Tourette’s syndrome people, Parkinson’s and other motility dysfunction disorders. Let them eat cake while the electro-convulsive therapy proponents eat caviar and feel good about themselves.

Yet, electro-convulsive therapy is not a cure; it is “a quick and temporary fix.” Nor is DBS a cure. What is most important about DBS is that it increases the personal and social functioning of individuals with a certain disease or syndrome or disorder. Call it what you will. This is what medicine’s various offerings are supposed to do: increase a person’s ability to function. Because a cure is not always available. There is no cure for a genetic mutation—other than death. “A quick and temporary fix” is not even a palliative for these people. For people who have been suffering for years, it is a slap in the face. An insult to one’s intelligence. A snide condescension. After years and years of dysfunction because “nothing” works, increased functionality is wanted. A relief from the pressure and decrease in quality of life. ECT does neither. DBS does

I knew a neurologist who came upon a malfunction with his EMG machine. Several patients in a row showed the same findings though their symptoms predicted differences. In order to appropriately discern the malfunction, he needed to test a “normal” person. So, he did. He had himself hooked up and tested. Same results. What a man! What a doctor! Not only did he prove that his equipment malfunctioned, he now knows just how his patients feel.

Perhaps the doctors advocating electro-convulsive therapy as a cure-all for mental diseases (which it is not) should undergo the treatment. Heal thyself, doctor. Don’t say you know, don’t say you understand what people experience, for you show not only your ignorance but your total disregard of your patient’s experience. Not just one shock, either. The entire multiple shock regimen that is the full treatment. And then write a paper and deliver a public lecture and teach and treat patients. I think you will find your functionality has decreased. . .and that has wrought a less acceptable life; that is, a life of less quality.

The trigger point for Bipolar I depression is scientifically and medically known. It is very local. The subcallosal cingulate. Area 25. So, why would anyone want to deny facts of focal locality in favor of a global non-local, non-focal treatment? There is no focus in electro-convulsive therapy. It is global disorganization of the general brain mechanism, the over-all everyday constant electrochemical neurological running of the organ called the brain. This background noise, if you will, is always present. It is what makes character and personality and, for lack of a better word, spirit. And electro-convulsive therapy disrupts this in the name of a cure. Electro-convulsive therapy institutes an unknown disease in its victims, though only for a short time, in the name of curing that victim of a known but totally unrelated disease. That the seizure lasts a short time does not speak to the long term negative effects and, in the case of artists, downright ruination of personhood of the treatment.

Again, proponents of electro-convulsive therapy—they prefer ECT because it’s nicer—while selling electro-convulsive therapy as a cure for depression, also maintain that it is no more than quick, temporary relief. Is dialectical materialism at work here? Are we being told that we can have and not have green hair at the same time?

The fact that it is almost impossible to discover the negative side of electro-convulsive therapy in the modern day is illustrative of the old, very old adage that if you only hear one side of an assertion, you are being lied to. The truth is being hidden. And it behooves you to look further. For there are two sides to everything, as they say.

You can also be sure that if someone is trying to control you, make you think and believe in a certain way, they are lying to you. This is most obvious in politics. It is also what is going on with the recent push for electro-convulsive therapy as the Gold Standard for cure of depression, suicidal ideation, mania and “other mental illnesses.” Since it doesn’t differentiate in diseases, one has to wonder about its claims. In fact, it is not so very far removed from the application of electric eels in the Middle Ages for the cure of frenzy.

Frankenstein applied electrical energy and created a monster.

There is a cure—more precisely, there is a method of control and stabilization of depression for both Major Depression and Bipolar I depression. Treatment-resistant depression. It works. It is effective. It is life-enhancing. But it is only allowed by the FDA for Major Depression. Bipolar I people must continue to suffer. When people suffer with treatment-resistant depressive Bipolar I, so do all around them. Their disease worsens. The risk of suicide increases the longer treatment is withheld. Major Depressives don’t commit suicide, they just more or less waste away if they don’t recover. Manic depression, easier to treat, is more worthy than the more erratic and dangerous Bipolar I TRD. Could it be because Bipolar I is a more complicated, more multi-faceted disease and therefore requires more energy but is not such a money-maker?

How much is a life worth?

So. . .you say you approve of and want electro-convulsive therapy? Go commit first degree murder and you will be assured of a cure. Otherwise, you have, at best, a 50% chance of a quality life after electro-convulsive therapy. For me, that is not enough. I was told that and better with drugs: not true. Not true at all. One hundred percent failure. When you open Schroedinger’s box, you want a greater probability of life than 50%, which is all you have to begin with. And now? Now you’re told you cannot get the treatment that is guaranteed to settle you. Deep Brain Stimulation for Treatment-Resistant Depression in Bipolar I is not approved by the FDA. The FDA wants you to have the sure failure of electro-convulsive therapy, by which time you may be too old, chronologically, to qualify for DBS. The FDA and the bandwagon proponents of electro-convulsive therapy prefer you to suffer, and allow you to become obsessed with getting even with the people who will not allow you a life of quality and maybe commit suicide. In the name of. . .what?

Take away my life. Take away my art. Take away my children. Take away my grandchildren. And take me away from all this. All in the name of electro-convulsive therapy, a false sinecure. These people and the FDA are making sure that when Schroedinger’s box is opened, you (the cat) are dead.

Gosh! But, y’know? How sad.

The cure—no, the stabilization and control that results in increased functionality is known and shown to be effective for the long term. You don’t need trial after trial after trial after trial ad infinitum if the therapy works. But this good therapy, DBS, is sold out for electro-convulsive therapy. . .and money. Florian Engert of Harvard blasts such a “cure.” For years he tried to change behavior by giving animals shocks (and rewarding them) to no avail. Electro-convulsive therapy doctors don’t give rewards, just shocks. They have too narrow an idea and understanding of the brain and how it works because the more cells you try to track at one time, the higher the risk of killing some of them, of disrupting the general electro-chemical functioning of the brain (Cf. Ariel Sabar’s article on Florian Engert, “Flashes of Genius” in The Smithsonian, July/August, Vol. 46, No. 4. 2015). As attested to by the long term nasty side-effects reported by patients carefully omitted from bandwagon snake oil salesmen’s pitches.

How much is a life worth? Dr. Wu. . .how much is a life worth? How much is an artist, an artist’s life worth? And. . .who the hell are you to make a judgment call on my quality of life? That’s your idea of quality of life, not mine. You and all the other snake oil salesmen who throw everyone into the same boiling cauldron. Double bubble, toil and trouble. (Perverted Shakespeare for a perverted cure.)

Electro-convulsive therapy was a lie earlier in the 20th century. It was a lie during Medieval times. It is a lie today.

How many people have committed suicide post-electro-convulsive therapy, deaths that are not included in the yellow journaled reportage? How many artists have gone on to commit suicide post-electro-convulsive therapy? How easy it is to write them off, forgetting the cure that was, in fact, no cure at all but only a quick and temporary fix. How can you have and not have green hair at the same time?

But electro-convulsive therapy is easy and remunerative. It takes no thought at all (and sometimes leaves none). It is no more than beating a dead horse. . .and then maintaining that the horse was the fucking problem to begin with. As in this story:

Of Nails and Heads

Gao Wenping 膏紊平 was a successful salesman, a garrulous merchant with a knack for making a good deal out of nothing. He dealt in whole cloth. His loud voice and boisterous laughter could be heard throughout the marketplace. Everyone wished to set up their stalls near Gao Wenping’s in order to wreak profit from the fallout from his dealings, for he drove a hard bargain and when customers left his stall, they were fair game for a soft sell.

After a rather immoderately long stay in one particular town, he decided to take his newfound fortune and return home. If he started early enough in the morning, he could be home by supper time. So, he packed up his bags, mounted his horse and was off, immensely satisfied with himself.

Around mid-morning, Gao Wenping decided he’d stop for some tea and put up at a tree-shaded roadside teahouse. While he was drinking his tea and snacking on some delicacy or other, he harangued the innkeeper with delightful tales of his exploits. The other guests were listening in as well, which only served to swell Gao Wenping’s story telling the more.

A leather-clad man filled the doorway and shouted in a rich, booming voice, “Who’s grey mare is that outside?”

“She is mine,” answered Gao Wenping.

“She’s a loose nail in her left hind shoe should be seen to.”

“It is of no consequence. I’ve only a few hours more on the road.”

“I’m a blacksmith on my way to Anxing town. I’ll fix it for you.”

“No bother. No bother,” said Gao Wenping, who then got up, paid his bill and went on his way. Gao Wenping was a thrifty man.

Around noon, Gao Wenping stopped for a bite to eat and his mid-day rest. The inn was very crowded but being bellicose and free with his money, he managed a comfortable table and room. Before he went inside, while he was tying up his horse, a farmer noted, indicating with his chin, “Your old mare has lost a shoe. Better take her to the smithy.”

“No problem. I’ve only a short way to go,” replied Gao Wenping. “There’s no reason to do anything.”

So it was that, after his nap, Gao Wenping loaded up his horse and went on his way with nary a thought to the horse’s hoof. There were no other towns or villages or inns on this stretch of road, so when the old grey mare took lame and then stumbled to the ground, Gao Wenping found himself in the middle of nowhere. He cursed and kicked the beast but to no avail–she’d broken her leg. Slandering her under his breath, he hoisted his bags onto his back and walked the rest of the way home.

He was late for dinner, expostulating all the while, “That damned nail has caused all this inconvenience!”

Service Leadership is Do-good Feel-good

A Feel Good Philosophy

Jimsecor recently read an article on a feel good philosophy and sent me the sage words. Me, A Servant Leader? is by Yves Johnson, president of an international leadership and consulting organization: Christ is My Savior Ministries.

Now, Jimsecor is somewhat cynical, so Yves Johnson’s “sage words” is heavily laced with satirical coloring. My cynicism is far more predominant than his, despite his long history of social activism. On one point, though, we are in full agreement: both of us agree with Mark Twain’s assertion that people who don’t read [and can] are more dangerous than people who can’t read.

Me, A Servant Leader? is about Service Leadership. Service Leadership is a religious-centred philosophy, though it is passed off as simple social leadership for everyone. So Yves Johnson states and so it would appear.

He is trying to counter the idea that some people are leaders while most people are followers. A very simplistic philosophy. US-Americans like simplistic. Nuance is just too. . . shaded and confusing. Questions and considerations are not answers and US-Americans like answers. US-Americans like black-and-white. So, it is nice Yves Johnson is attempting to rid his US-American fellows of the inferiority inducing idea that most people are followers; that is, most people are not the best. This Leader-Follower philosophy he seeks to eradicate smacks of Social Darwinism. So far, good for him.

Yves Johnson shows us that we are all leaders. He gives examples. So we should feel better about ourselves. I suppose that we can extrapolate this to the belief that we are good (better people) and, therefore, do do good. And, indeed, he does speak to this Service Leadership as doing good in society, doing good for others.

I am reminded of Winston Churchill’s and George Bernard Shaw’s and Oscar Wilde’s and Mark Twain’s and Ambrose Bierce’s warning to run like hell when you see a do-gooder coming, for, in fact, they do not have “your” good at heart (they have their own). They tend to wreak havoc with their narrow single-minded approach to problem solving—and “your” good.

Though humanity does need to feel better about itself considering the horrid, soulless teachings of Richard Dawkins who maintains (outside his raging pseudo-atheism) that as there is no meaning to nature, there is no meaning to animal life and, therefore, there is no meaning to life period. We’re just here, The End. We are just expressions of DNA and genetic make-up. Us and all life.

There are many philosophers who do not agree with Richard Dawkins. In fact, they note or imply that Richard Dawkins does not like life, human life, at all. Amongst this group we find Boethius, Hepatia, Aristotle, Plato, the Humanist philosophers of the 12-13th centuries, the Romantic Writers, Carl Popper, Joseph Campbell, physicists, astrophysicists—how long is this list?

Richard Dawkins is a viciously stripped down version of Skinnerian Behaviorist Philosophy: we, humans, only react; we have no motives (a true conundrum as the Behaviorists have motives; cf Friends by Abe Kobo and Skinner’s own writings, along with post-Milgram sociologists); we are no more than machines. In Dawkinsian language, expressions of the machinery of life, our genes.

Yves Johnson’s article counters this trend to meaninglessness and directionlessness in modern day life. And this is nice. We need to think of ourselves in a more edifying manner despite the hell our governments are raining down on us and the world in the name of good, right and justice. But Yves Johnson goes too far: because, he maintains, if you have done just one thing good, because you have “been a leader” even once, you are a good person. And, so, you are a Service Leader. I find a horrifying parallel here to the belief of Amida Buddhism that if you speak the name of the Buddha Amida before you die, you will be quit of all your sins and gain entrance into the Western Paradise (Heaven). (There are other religions that follow this very same system of saving your soul.)

Yves Johnson’s Service Leader philosophy has no standards, no boundaries, no discrimination: anyone who engages in doing social good in even one instance is a good person. Hallelujah! And it’s good to feel good.

I find Yves Johnson’s philosophy little different from Epicureanism which teaches that one should do what feels good. This often gets confused with hedonism but, in fact, was not so physically focused. Besides, feeling good about what you’re doing, feeling good about yourself, has a distinctly physical quality to it.

The idea of doing for others, becoming involved in service, is for the benefit of others, not for your own good feeling, not for your uplifting ego fulfillment. That kind of service is selfish. That kind of service has nothing to do with others; in fact, the others are nonhuman things. That kind of service is face, a prideful, boasting face. That kind of service is piling up good deeds so you get a better deal after death, in the afterlife; a better chance in getting to Heaven. That kind of service is not Service Leadership at all.

True Service Leadership is involvement. Service Leadership is commitment, no matter how major or minor. Sometimes, Service Leadershp is not lifelong; but, generally speaking, the experience and commitment never leave you.

To what are you committed? Are you doing anything about it?

Because Yves Johnson’s Service Leadership has no definition and no discrimination it is boundless. Such open-endedness makes the opinion that leads you to ban books Service Leadership. It is not. It is uninformed opinion. It is ignorance, as most such people have never read the books.

Such open-ended Service Leadership can include terrorism, because you believe it is for the good of humanity.

Such open-ended Service Leadership can include abuse and hatred, intolerance. All because you are involved in something that you believe is socially edifying. Joseph McCarthy and witch hunts and the Inquisition become Social Leadership statements.

There must be bounds, boundaries, else there is nothing.

Jimsecor has been a social critic/satirist and activist for 50 years. He, like me, is dedicated to social justice. We write—mostly, I direct—and we have found a particular cause, if you will. We are involved in disability activism—which is not always violent or confrontational, though with disability issues, confrontation is more or less the more edifying behavior—accessibility issues and fighting the social prejudice surrounding being disabled. DISabled: Not able, Not normal, Something less than normal.

The leading officers in George Washington’s army were disabled; they were the reasons Washington won any battle. One had one eye, the other had one arm.

Able bodied people enjoy a better life because of stupid little victories like curb cuts, automatic doors, elevators that ding and/or count off floors, telephones, phones and computers and clocks that speak to you, typewriters/keyboards (not pianos), baseball umpire signs, American football huddles, pedestrian crossing lights, kneeling buses, development of “driverless” cars and vocal directions to operate car accessories. . . .

But the disabled have to fight for jobs and equal pay, signed church services, Brailled menus and announcements, wheelchair access—inclusion, just simply being allowed to be part of society. And we detest this prejudice, this mindlessness that keeps so many people sidelined.

Jimsecor has taken things a step further and become focused, due to his manic-depression that is unresponsive to medication intervention, on mental health issues. Like. . .why is every portion of our physical body treated and covered by insurance while mental health issues are not so worthy? Doctors and psychiatric workers who “opt out” of Medicaid and/or Medicare are not—are no longer—Service Leaders; though, for Yves Johnson, they would be considered so because once they did accept such health insurance coverage.

They are, however, not Service Leaders because they practice exclusion, they practice Social Darwinism, they perpetuate prejudice. Religions that exclude are godless; they are not Service Leaders. I think that includes most religionists. . .and most so-called atheists. Most people have not been taken as far as Jimsecor—I certainly haven’t! Most people haven’t been targeted and made to pay, as it were, for their Service Leadership. But Jimsecor does not consider himself to be a leader. (I consider him so.) He just calls himself an engaged Buddhist. Most Buddhist aren’t “engaged”; nor are most religious believers who prefer talking about injustice and prating about their high ideals but do not get their hands dirty. Engaged people are out doing.

Most people are not leaders, like most people are not heroes—thank god! What anarchy! What chaos! What a fucking mess! Nothing would get done. And, more to the point, if everyone was a leader, there would be no leaders. Why? Social definition comes from others: a hermit is only a hermit because of others, the people around him who don’t isolate themselves; misers are defined because other people are not so tight; a leader is a leader because other people aren’t.

Social Leadership is a label others give to you, not a label you give yourself.

We think Yves Johnson may be on to something, something that might spur people to actually becoming socially involved; but Yves Johnson has not given much thought to his Service Leadership idea. We wonder if Yves Johnson has, in his preaching and business development, included the deaf, the blind, the physically handicapped, those with a speech impediment, the mentally handicapped. If not, then by excluding others, he is not such a good example of a Service Leader. Nor are his new Service Leaders.

It takes more than thinking yourself good to be a Service Leader.

It takes more than one or two instances of involvement to be a Service Leader.

“I was a boy scout troupe leader for a year. I’ve done my bit. I’m a Service Leader.” (Which implies, “Follow me.”)

I feel good about myself bullshit.

Okay. Let me give you a real example. . .

Jimsecor’s sister is married to six figures. Upper six figures. She lives in a high end condominium in expensive northern Virginia. She took into her house a homeless man. She let him live in a basement room, albeit with facilities. We don’t know where he ate or even if he ate with the family. He was ferried about, if need be, in her expensive, high end SUV. It sure would not do to have him roaming around such a rich, prosperous neighborhood. At the end of the year, he was let go. Her time as a committed service leader was over. But she never lets you forget her goodness and involvement. I’m not sure, having heard her express herself on this topic, if she’s hyped over feeling so good herself or about her superiority for having done good to one less fortunate. Once.

Service Leadership à la Yves Johnson.

And I suppose that’s good for business, right?

FreedomPop is FreedomPoop

FreedomPop. A really cool company, a really cool idea.

But, alas, a scam. To be kind. Worse than the other guys.

To begin with, FreedomPop offers a 30-free introductory offer. Good. Good marketing. Because what follows is up to $19.99/mo.

But FreedomPop takes 3 weeks to deliver its device and, in 9 days tells you your free month’s service is up.

Excuse me?

Come to find FreedomPop begins its free month’s running time from the time of order not time of first connection. That means, with the notice that delivery time can be 10 days, your free month is, at most, only 20 days—about three weeks. And people accept this? But that three weeks’ time for me ran before I ever received the device. That means my free month lasted about a week.

My anger was appeased by a woman telling me that my time would be extended. Thank you.

By that time, I’d been scammed by Covington Who’s Who and closed down my debit card. I told this woman when my month of free service was soon to be over to contact me and I’d get FreedomPop’s information from her and begin automatic bank payment. Why? Because there was now no secure way to pass along my card information.

Two weeks after I get my device, I’m told that I’m going to be disconnected, by some man, because I’ve not paid.

Then, a couple days later, I get another note from FreedomPop, from a man, who tells me that because of problems with billing, I’m going to be disconnected and it will cost me not only the new month’s amount but $10 to reconnect. But no means of proffering this secure information is offered.

What kind of marketing is this?

What kind of customer service is this?

What kind of intra-office communication is this?

In order to accomplish anything—nothing according to contract—I must make a phone call. A company that does all its business online, even though there is damn little information on their site, needs to continue to do business by phone? The pre-Internet “old fashioned” way?

It seems there is a disconnect within FreedomPop.

This is no way to do business.

Let us review:

I bought the device on 5 May.

I connected on 28 May. 28 May is the day I received my device.

Adding a month’s time (30 days) that means my free month of service should expire on 25 June.

However, I am told in three days that my free month is up, please pay. . .and there’s a problem with receiving payment.

After two days, this problem is fixed and my free month of service will expire on 25 June. I tell the woman that I will begin paying, as I’d been scammed and my card discontinued.

Unless, I suppose, I use up the 500 megs. As of two weeks into this month’s freedom, I received a note that I only had 200 megs remaining. Good to be reminded, considering the slimness of the proffered service.

But, then, the following day I’m told my account will be closed that midnight. This by a man, not the woman I’d dealt with before.

The midnight did not happen.

But a few days later I get a note that there’s a problem with my bill paying and I’m to be shut down and must pay $10 to reconnect along with the $19.99 monthly fee. This note from a different man.

FreedomPop is at least as bad as ATT in this respect: customer service, billing and intra-office communication. At ATT they don’t exist in any kind of working order. Neither do they at FreedomPop, it seems.

And now, right on time, at two weeks post reception of device and first connection, FreedomPop has blocked Internet access.

Anti-vaccination nation

The Anti-vaccination Nation

Thank goodness it’s not the entire nation that pooh-poohs on science as if science were just another kind of cat litter! These people jump on the first urban myth bandwagon with run-off that infects their own children and all other children who come in contact with them. These parents, not a very responsible sort, were vaccinated and grew up “normal childhood diseases” free. Since these ignoramuses have been on the warpath, there have been outbreaks of polio and mumps and measles when for decades there were few reports of these diseases and no epidemic-like outbreaks. Part of this has to do with the idea that vaccines are dangerous because of the mercury in them. Really? Why vaccines? Toothpaste and dental fillings are mercury contaminated. But they do not cry out against this. Part is from the idea some religious groups put forth regarding AIDS drugs and sexual disease protection via condom usage: since it’s only 98% effective, it is useless. Really? Saving 98% of people is not good? Two percent of people becoming infected rather than 100% makes the protection invalid? More like the people engaging in this kind of logic are mentally wanting. Vaccines are not 100% effective, so they should not be used? What kind of ignorance is this?

More to the point, these anti-vaccine people are selfish and irresponsible. Why? Because when their unprotected children become infected, all other unprotected children are exposed to infection. Why other unprotected children? Because this anti-vaccine microcephalics have done their best to ban all vaccination in communities. They seem to become very quiet when there is an outbreak of some disease, like measles or mumps or polio, in their communities.

And the newspapers don’t help. Just a week or so after a report of a massive measles outbreak in California, the responsible journalists of America penned an article telling us all that Rubella—the dangerous kind of measles—has been completely wiped out in the US. Once, we were close; then the anti-vaccine crowd began crowing. All of them have forgotten that they were vaccinated and that is why they are free of these diseases. These anti-vaccine idiots have even sued local school districts that require vaccination records before kids are allowed into school. Damn good socially responsible program. An old one, too, from at least 50 years ago. I’m 68. I grew up being able to claim having had, and survived, the “normal childhood diseases.” The following generation never knew these diseases. And, now, once again, the country is faced with these all-but-eradicated diseases. The most we can hope for is that when all of these anti-vaccine addicts’ children come down with mumps they all end up sterile. That’ll be the end of that foolishness.

Governor Brownback does it again!

Shame on Gov. Sam Brownback

The Kansas State Government—Gov. Sam Brownback—was given five figures to create accessibility kiosks at the capitol building in Topeka. What we got was kiosks manned by people who will walk you through how to use the computers to get information. There are no sign interpreters for the deaf, who can actually read directions rather well. But, worse, there is absolutely no accessibility for the blind. There is no Braille. There is no voice screen reader program. Gov. Brownback’s task force for accessibility in the capitol building only recognizes physical handicaps as accessibility needy disabilities. Narrow minded and wasteful. Yet Gov. Brownback and the State of Kansas laud this effort as a great leap froward in making government (and sanitized history) accessible, fulfilling some kind of mandate. Though no one in the blind community sees it this way.

The local and State chapters of the NFB (Nat’l Federation of the Blind) will be going to the capitol and making a hands-on assessment and submitting their reports to the State and the NFB. Lord help Brownback and Kansas when the NFB gets involved! There will be considerable embarrassing and, perhaps, shaming PR.

This kind of half-assed accessibility that counts out some handicaps is in violation of the ADA, which sanctioned use of the money. Some of this money might better have been spent in educating Brownback and his State employees in what the ADA is and what accessibility entails—most certainly not in hiring new State employees whose job it is to walk the physically handicapped through how to use the kiosk computers, as if the physically handicapped are mentally handicapped. It is obviously the State employees who are mentally deficient—and by extension Gov. Brownback as he signed off on the program and gave his approval upon completion.

Bipolar Happens

Just recently, Jimsecor and I got involved with www.bipolarhappens.com, run by Julie Fast. This is a great site name, as this is just how it happens and how it feels—at least, if the manic-depression is the genetic/hereditary kind. There is no apparent link for comments. In her newsletters, which are, admittedly, necessarily general, there is NO link for comments. But you can get to her via another link.

She sent a newsletter that was most illogical and disorganized and Jimsecor commented on this, giving her alot of supportive and new information along the way. Her answer was horrid, telling him if he’d not unsubscribed, she’d do it for him “now.” He wrote back noting that she was defensive and did not take even supportive criticism well, so, sure, “guillotine me.” Her follow-up was a threat of legal action for bullying (misspelled “billing”) because she wouldn’t tolerate it.

In fact, the newsletter noted sounded very much as if she was having a manic-depressive bad hair day, as nothing fit together.

She is, from her responses, only capable of dealing with things if people agree with her, don’t question her and don’t give her too much information, as in nothing beyond her corralled thought.

Although this appeared to be a decent site, Julie Fast is passing herself off as something she is not—aside from not being so well-informed, not so well-stabilized. Jimsecor is quite familiar with someone’s inability to accept criticism, supportive or otherwise, as he suffered with/through this for years. Partly, this was due to his depression, if he received the criticism at such a time; partly it was due to his abusive childhood. Although he is still sensitive, he does not go overboard or become damning, as Julie Fast has done.

Apparently she does not accept that some manic-depressives are refractory to medication therapy. Apparently she is unaware of studies done involving those who are refractory, studies that began in the 1990s at NIH and have continued on and off since then in the private sector. We found nothing on her site dealing with the genetic/hereditary factor or with the mood swings of the socially challenged and those with personality disorder, people who are called manic-depressive but, in fact, are not. She feels that not responding to 24 different medications is a ton of medication: Jimsecor has multiple pages of meds that don’t work; his psychiatrist and therapist joke that it is large enough for a book. However, in the 1990s, when she was diagnosed, here psychiatrist was right that there were few options outside of medication. ECT being nothing short of barbaric. But there was the NIH study. (Now, there is deep brain stimulation, as a last resort. Here site is not up-to-date.)

She is, she reports, taking Lamictal with good effect. Good for her, we say; it’s not so very stabilizing, it would seem. Jimsecor’s trial of Lamictal sent him into a horrid manic episode, taking him to the ER. After 30 years and the NIH findings not being so stabilizing any more, he is looking toward deep brain stimulation. He’s tired of being tossed around. He has, other than me, no support system, something that Julie Fast does not address for others, yet is vitally important.

She is not supportive or accepting of other manic-depressives; nor is she helpful when she is so dismissive. Her books that she touts so often are extremely expensive, especially for being so short, and self-published or done via Amazon. Within the psychological community and the manic-depressive scientific population, she is a total unknown. Garners not a mention. So, her work is more of a “this is how I deal with things.” She does say, in one way or another, “you should do it this way.” Much of the onus for dealing with manic-depressive behavior is laid on the manic-depressive, which is assuming a great deal, for there is not always consciousness of the episode. As manic-depression is an affective disease, it not only shows up in behavior, it is manifested in thinking; the perception of self and the world is distorted, returning to reality after the episode comes to an end. Some few triggers are external; the genetic ones are not observable beforehand.

Neither the site or Julie Fast are what they present themselves to be. She bills herself: Julie A. Fast is a world leading mental health expert on the topics of bipolar disorder, depression, seasonal affective disorder,personality disorders and mood management. [punctuation errors in original] She has no expertise; to wit:- there is no such thing as an “ultra, ultra rapid cycling bipolar II,” which she claims she suffered through. (There is rapid cycling; it is not bipolar II, it is bipolar I.) And she’s only experienced manic-depression, not any of the other disease entities.

She is not a leading mental health expert. She has no certificates or degrees. Without any credentials, she’s awfully arrogant, bordering on the delusional, in her claim to fame—or at least suffering from a very bad case of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Without any credentials, she might be dangerous.

As Wilde and Shaw and Twain noted, beware the person who has your best interests at heart: the do-gooder.

Jimsecor has a Ph.D. but that does not allow him to call himself a world expert in manic-depression (the degree is in theatre). Nor does he consider his 60 years of suffering through the disease qualification enough to call himself a world expert in manic-depression. He has guest edited, in the past, for psychiatric journals; but this does not make him a world expert. He has published in NAMI and been a KS State representative to NAMI, but this does not qualify him as a world expert. But Julie A. Fast, with nothing of this sort behind her, does bill herself as a world expert.

So, when all said and done, she and her website do not deliver. Her sell is great; her site name is great; but that’s all. A great disappointment. A disappointment Jimsecor and I think ought to be avoided.

Yet another self-help, “I’ve got the answer” site for an affective disease that is not simple or straightforward. Unlike an organic disease process, where symptoms are relatively the same for everyone, manic-depressives show a wide margin of behaviors. The DSM-IV and V don’t even recognize some of the expressions, like manic episodes that are marked solely by a high anxiety, a driven impulse that leaves you exhausted (but happy) at the end. Mixed type episodes end up in the 7th ring of Dante’s Inferno, leaving a littered landscape of destruction (metaphor, here). Not being able to comment and converse obviates any benefits the site might manage.  

If you’re looking for answers or discussion, go elsewhere; if you’re satisfied with snake oil, Julie Fast is for you.

Indiana governor’s foolishness

What this governor is on about has nothing to do with religious freedom. There is already religious freedom: it is guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. What he’s on about is just what he’s being accused of: discrimination against the LGBT community. Fags and dykes and heshes. Christianity is not under attack, either, as it is a major player in politics, associated with the right and far right, people who are, really, using Christianity as shills. Using Christianity to rationalize discrimination is fallacious–but it is not new. It’s part of what got us slavery and kept the institution going; the racism of the post Civil War times; the being of the KKK. This behavior is the antithesis of the teachings of Christ, esp when you add in the Nag Hamadi. There are still some Christian groups who will not help you (sometimes under a disguise) unless you join their conclave. Even not comprehending the full extent of the sociocultural lessons in the story of the Good Samaritan, such “believers” are not at all believers. They are hypocrites. If you want a theocracy, then look to Salem, the Church in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Islam. . .intolerant, prejudicial, paranoid (as in witch hunting). . .

The Indiana governor is way out of line, as are all people who believe they have the right to not serve people they do not approve of, who they can rationalize as “bad” or “outre” or “undeserving.” All of the States who have passed such a law, even with their anti-discrimination clauses, are dysfunctional and rationalize intolerance and hypocrisy. All people who believe in this kind of religious practice, i.e., I don’t have to help you because of what you believe, which is different from what I believe, are inhuman. I can only hope one of them is taken before a court for murder just because they would not help someone based on their belief.

Sick. Sick, sick, sick.