Thursday, July 8, 2010


Hot days for cool music continue in the City.

It has reached 102 degrees. My father came this morning to give me the new air conditioner for the living room. An inferno in there without the air so I will have the porter install it on Saturday morning. Otherwise I'm exiled to the bedroom where the original air conditioner was installed.

The river of my heart flows into a great sea.

You cannot really know what it's like for other people unless you hear it firsthand from them. I've been researching multicultural mental health and the reality I can't say was shocking it was disturbing. The only word that came to my mind was hurtful. I spent two hours on the Internet researching this topic for Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month and I was so upset I retired to the air conditioned bedroom.

I will spend all day tomorrow doing more research until I'm satisfied and after that I'll write the first July SharePost for the Connection. It will focus on African Americans and mental health care. I printed up a lot of documents to use to write this. My desire is to focus on solutions and not come across as angry although I was angry.

Will not spill the beans on this topic in here because I want you to surf on over to the Connection on the weekend and read it there. That to me is the appropriate forum for a lengthy talk about health care.

Although I will give you a preview:

You can Google "schizophrenia blacks" and find numerous web sites talking about a phenomenon that happened in the 1960s and 1970s during the civil rights movement. Before then schizophrenia was thought of as an innocent disease affecting white middle class women and wives who were cold and unable to perform their societal roles because they were schizophrenogenic and lacking in nurturing skills.

At the rise of the black power movement schizophrenia shifted to a violent disease. Young African American men were diagnosed with the illness "protest psychosis" and advertisements in medical journals showed black male faces the doctors could treat with medication to control their belligerence.

Jonathan Metzl who wrote the book about this trend in psychiatry was interviewed on those various web sites. The Psychology Today interview was the most detailed.

Today other reasons also account for why schizophrenia is overdiagnosed in African American males instead of affective disorders. The standard tests use to diagnose do not reflect how some patients can be wary of talking to a doctor and thus their hesitancy is interpreted as a negative symptom linked to poverty of speech and avolition.

Also: most psychiatrists who diagnose people do not ask about drug or alcohol abuse. Symptoms of withdrawal from drug or alcohol abuse mirror those of schizophrenia including hallucinations. I know someone who was lucky he was not medicated when he presented these symptoms because the staff knew he suffered from alcoholism not schizophrenia proper.

Another problem is that African Americans metabolize antidepressants more slowly than people of other races so when they are prescribed higher doses (which often happens) they experience toxic side effects.

This is what I remember reading from off the top of my head. I did read a paper that focused on solutions that go beyond the rhetoric of cultural competency and I will quote those solutions. I will also list at the end of the Connection blog entry the link to where you can find one of the Black Psychiatrists of America for treatment.

The last thing I can tell you from memory is that African Americans aren't often included in research studies that would reveal the impact of drugs on these patients.

Now you see. Why I needed a new air conditioner. It just got too hot to handle researching all this in my inferno living room.

This is how it is when you're tasked with writing blog entries for a web site.

You realize that of course this is true so you want to get up and fight.

You Google until your fingers are sore.

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