Tag Archives: NPR

New drugs for depression?


This morning, NPR’s Morning edition ran a news report on some medicines that may help in the fight against depression. What makes this an interesting story is that the drugs are not typical (a street drug and a motion sickness drug) and that they work quite quickly–some even in one day! In addition, these drugs do not appear to work on the neurotransmitters serotonin or norepinephrine–the focus of most of our current antidepressants–but on glutamate, another neurotransmitter.

Listen to or read the story here.

Ketamine (known on the street at Special K) may have some capacity to form new connections between neurons. The assumption is that those who suffer with depression have had significant loss of neural connections.

Like with every drug, there may be some serious side effects with Ketamine: experiencing light trails (hence why clubbers use it) and foggy memories.

Findings, however initial, should (a) encourage us that better relief may be possible for millions of people, (b) remind us how little we really know about the brain, and (c) remember that those who suffer from serious depression and who seek medical treatment also must suffer with the experience of being a guinea pig of practitioners. This last point cannot be underscored enough. Medicines are never a panacea. And, we rarely can tell why one drug seems to work with some and doesn’t with others. In fact, much of what we know about drugs is shrouded in theory. Give a serotonin boosting compound to depressed people and they seem to get better suggests that the problem is that depressed people have too little serotonin in their synaptic clefts. Of course, this is mostly theory since some data may suggest that some have lower levels of serotonin and are not depressed at all.

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Filed under Depression, Psychiatric Medications, Psychology

Hooking up less difficult than admitting love?


Listened this am to NPR’s Morning edition and a story on “hooking up.” Definitely worth your listening for the 8 minute story. Here’s a couple of amazing thoughts (not quotes) from female interviewees:

1. The hook-up is all about the tension, build-up, and the sex.

2. Dating actually costs too much money; hook-ups are much cheaper

3. Talking about being in love is more embarrassing than talking about one’s sex life (hooking up) on the radio.

4. Dating a guy means bringing him into your circle of close friends and the preference is to have the hook-up but do nothing that could harm real friendships

5. It is vulnerable to be needy of love. Not so of sex.

Scary stuff here. Think about it. Taking your clothes off and sharing genital sexual activity with an acquaintance puts you in a less vulnerable position than asking someone out for a formal date?  Can someone explain that one to me?

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Filed under Cultural Anthropology, news, Psychology, Relationships, Sex, sexuality

Greed, groupthink, and the housing/debt crisis


This week I heard a great program on “This American Life” (NPR) regarding the housing and mortgage crisis and how the heart of this problem is simply greed. Well, the problem is pretty complex. But, what is clear is that all involved–from the homeowner, insurance agent, Wall Street broker, to Banking Organizations looking to invest–everyone either turned a blind eye for personal gain or knowingly sought something that was too good to be true. You hear the stories of individuals choosing massive loans because they can (without any income verification), agents making 100,000 dollars per month selling loans that they knew couldn’t be repaid, large brokers who felt they HAD to satisfy larger companies desires for these bundled mortgages because they could get such a better return on investment. And everyone conspired to think that it was all going to work out. They had data on their side (unfortunately telling them about the predictions of loan worthy individuals repaying their loans but assuming that those completely unable to pay back loans would act like those who could pay them back), they had larger corporations demanding to invest and willing to offer mortgages too good to be true. A classic case of group-think!

If these kinds of situations interest you and you are wondering, “how in the world did anyone fall for this kind of thing?” then you should check out the link above and listen on-line.

As an aside, greed and group-think doesn’t just happen on a secular level. Years ago, many Christian organizations (along with some large Philadelphia organizations like the Academy of Art, UPENN, etc.) got sucked up into a ponzi scheme better known as New Era Philanthropy. It was a classic case of nonprofit greed (give .5 million dollars to Mr. Bennett and get back 1 million in 6 months). It was too good to be true but most only focused on the good part. Lots of well-meaning folk, including my own Biblical Seminary, came out quite wounded.

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Filed under Cultural Anthropology, news, News and politics, self-deception