Sunday, November 04, 2007


A couple more questions from the readership:

I finished reading your book about a month ago and I really enjoyed it, I’m 17 and for the past 3 years I've been trying to figure out what life is all about. I started reading books on buddhism by tich nhat hanh, surya dass, and the dalai lama. But I was always a bit turned off by zen, Im not sure why, it just seemed really esoteric. Well, I was wrong. Your book was great, it painted an amazing picture of what zen is, and I've been trying to do zazen ever since. But I have a question, where do buddhist morals come from? In a religion that believes in a god or gods, they are the ones that decide what is right and wrong. How does zen make a distinction from what is moral and what is not?

You’re starting early! And I’m starting late because you asked me this over a year ago and I’m only just now getting to it. Now you’re 18 and you’ve probably moved on to cooler things than Buddhism. But here goes anyway.

Buddhist morality comes from the situation at the moment. I know whenever I say this people scream and cry and tear their hair out yelling, “That’s situational ethics!” As if that’s a bad thing. But I really don’t think it is.

I guess when people say “situational ethics” they mean an attitude where you change your ethical stance on a whim according to whatever suits you at the moment. Buddhist morality isn’t like that.

We have guidelines in the Ten Precepts. You can read all about those by downloading this pamphlet. But as it says in the pamphlet, Dogen said that the precepts were the habit of Buddhists, not their goal. Nishijima’s Q&A at the beginning of this pamphlet really lays out the Buddhist view on morality way better than I’m able to.

In real life the proper course of action always presents itself clearly. But we are usually unable to discern it because we have a strong habit of shouting down our intuitive response with thought. Part of the reason we do zazen is to learn to ignore thought and pay attention to the intuitive response.

Morals are not decided by the opinion of the majority, even if that majority calls themselves “Buddhist.” As I’ve mentioned recently, there’s a tendency among American Buddhists to apply the precepts the way the Ten Commandments have been applied by some Christians, as a way to criticize or even ostracize others. It’s as if no one read The Scarlet Letter when it was assigned in ninth grade, or at least they didn’t get it. The point of the precepts is not that they be used as a guideline to judge whether other people are good or bad. They’re to be used as a guideline for our own behavior in times when intuition fails. But, as I’m sure I’ve said, intuition never really fails. But we do screw our bodies and minds up to the point where we become unable to see it clearly.

Another question:

I've been a Buddhist geek for a long time and have been sitting zazen every day for about a year. I'm also and electrician, a job that requires random drug testing --no problem. I was called in for one such test about a month ago and got a case of stage fright resulting in my inability to produce a sample and the subsequent loss of my job. This has been a problem for me since I was ten and, while I've noticed some improvement since I've been sitting, it's by no means cured.

So, I went to my doctor, a man who I respect very much. He called it paruresis --a mild anxiety disorder. He wrote me a note to challenge the loss of my job and prescribed me some medication. One of these pills I'm now taking is Zoloft.

Here's my question: While I haven't noticed any effect on my sitting zazen, I worry that this kind of treatment will cheapen my practice and ultimately do more harm then good. What do you think? Again, I know you're busy and I'm only asking your opinion because I'm between zen teachers and I respect your take.

I get questions like this a lot and I’m always a little hesitant to answer them. The reason I’m hesitant is that I really don’t know the people who are asking these things personally, so I can’t assess their situation in any reliable way.

In general, I’m pretty much anti-drug all the way down the line. I don’t even like taking Asprin, though I will take it sometimes. So I’m not a big fan of drugs like Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and all the rest of the modern miracle cures for whatever ails you. I’ve gone through some serious depression in my life and I am sure that, had I gone to one of the kinds of doctors who deals in these wonder drugs during those times I’d surely have been prescribed them. Had that happened I’m certain I’d still be dependant on them to this day. So I thank God I’m just a little too old, so that those drugs hadn’t yet been invented yet when I “needed” them.

To me, your particular problem seems a bit simpler than it’s being made out to be. I mean, if it were me, I’d have gone out and bought a huge thing of lemonade and drank it all in one go. Or just sucked on the cold water tap in the bathroom for a few minutes before entering the stall. The biological urge would then overwhelm any stage fright. Still, having been prescribed the drug by a physician gives you more leverage to take action against your former employers. So I think it’s a good thing to have done in that sense.

In most cases I’d guess the problem is a lot simpler than the cure. Once when a friend of mine who was studying clinical psychology told me about the side effects of the various drugs her profession used, I said it sounded like tuning a piano with a sledge hammer. Maybe the one string you were trying to fix would get tuned up that way, but you’re gonna wreck everything else in the process.

Still, I want to be careful. There may be times when a medical solution is called for. But, to me, the decision to go for the medical solution is like the decision to declare war. It’s something you want to hold off on until there are absolutely no other options. Nobody was gonna stop the Nazis with diplomacy, so war had to be declared. But unless you’re up against someone like the Nazis it may be better to avoid declaring war. My take on the use of anti-depressants and similar drugs is like that.

I'm still in Ohio. Here's the gig list again:

November 7th at 7PM I'll be at the Akron Public Library downtown.

November 7th (same day) 0DFx (the hardcore band I played bass in in the early 80s) will play the Matinee in Akron after the talk at the library.

November 9th my movie Cleveland's Screaming will be shown at the Beachland Tavern in Cleveland. There'll also be live performances by 0DFx, CD Truth, Cheap Tragedies and This Moment in Black History.

November 10th 0DFx plays at the Spitfire Saloon in Cleveland.

November 12th I'll give a Zen talk at Lambert's Tattooing and Body Piercing (I kid you not) in manly, he-man Mansfield, Ohio at 7PM (Sponsored by the Mansfield Zen Center).


Anonymous said...

great posts brad, and three of them in three days even! super sweet!


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I think there is a case to be made for prudent use of psychiatric medications in certain situations - as you said it depends a great deal on the individual involved.
After the death of my wife I was very depressed and felt suicidal - like I might just go off myself impulsively one day. So I got a prescription for an antidepressant - this was also around the same time I started meditating. I found that the drug gave me enough space to be able to pursue mediation, which was a more suitable long term solution. I liken my situation to that of someone who has been injured - you wouldn't suggest someone who has sprained their ankle tough it out - you'd tell them to use crutches! And get physical therapy, so they won't always walk with a limp.
I was fortunate that the first antidepressant I was given was effective, and had few side effects. As you said, the appropriate course of action is going to vary for each individual and situation.

Jinzang said...

Anti-depressants, specifically SSRIs, are WAAAY overprescribed in the United States, 98 million prescriptions according to one article I read. They've become the treatment of first resort for patients consulting a doctor for psychological problems. This would be bad enough if the drugs were harmless, but they have side effects. Zoloft in particular is notorious for causing patients to gain weight and also causes impotence.

As a general rule, alternative medicine gives more satisfactory results for functional illnesses (those with no apparent organic basis) than conventional medicine. In particular, homeopathy has effective treatments for paruresis (shy kidneys) and grief following loss of a loved one.

That being said, I can't advise someone to stop or switch medical treatment, they should see a (preferably alternative) doctor.

Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...
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Mysterion said...

META-COGNITION - thinking about thinking

What is Intuition?

1) Spontaneous mental processing built on knowledge and experience.
2) Irrational knowledge produced emotionally by inspiration.
3) Original viewpoint - meditation. A type of revelation not obtained through experience but acquired in a mystical way.
4) Direct registering of the nature of a perceived reality, similar to a revelation; emotional discovering of an ultimate truth, which is unprovable and does not need proof.
5) Experience thinking, of which the individual stages do not become fully conscious.

Anonymous said...

dood.. you must be in akron.. 3 posts in 3 days?? sheeit! go visit Chrissie Hynde's veggy restaurant when you're there.. is it open yet? take care.

Anonymous said...

who says there is a limit to how may posts on a single blog your'er allowed to have in a day? so uh yeah, PISS OFF, buddy. mysterion has as much a right as anyone else to post as often as they want here. besides, his post keep it interesting between brad's wisdoms of the day.


HezB said...

I'm finding it increasingly interesting just how much time people are willing to invest in their 'Internet Identities'. Its obvious that we construct all sort of strange, often quite extreme, identities as strategies to feel that we exist in ways other than we actually do: we want to seem 'intelligent', 'cool', 'PC', 'hardcore', 'Buddhist' etc. etc. How less 'real' are these internet identities than our 'real' life ones?

I don't see this as a big problem really (until it IS one), but I think its an interesting idea to stop occasionally and really have a little FEEL around to see if we can see just why the hell we're doing these things. (Hee hee, I said FEEL... case in point :-))

For e.g. I'm typing this with a slight feeling of annoyance with all the useless, self-righteous, 'religious' time-wasting crap I've been reading recently on so-called 'Buddhist' web pages. Am I indulging something I shouldn't?... I'm sure you'll give me your useless opinions, but at least I know now why I've done this.

This has been my useless opinion. I hope it hasn't impacted too much on your consideration of what is actually meaningful to our conditions. While I think the little silly costumes we adopt are fine, I think it a little ominous when they start to dictate the moves on-stage, but, such is the magic of theatre, and the show must go on! (or maybe 'Video Nasty' would generally be a better comparison in this disturbing little tale of a world?)



Anonymous said...

Big cheesy thanks for the Q&A, Brad. It's appreciated.

Anonymous said...

fwiw, i too played bass in numerous early hardcore bands in NYC as a young pup - CB's / Max's you name it... Main band was The Betrayed - on a couple of comps, etc. and often filled in for Reagan Youth... further i left the scene abruptly when bands like Agnostic Front and their brand of violent jock fans took over the scene...

all of which is in preface to my saying that i think you're talking out of the side of your mouth with your bullshit regarding crazymeds...

for years i suffered from a debilitating brain fugue that caused the destruction of more personal relationships than i care to remember...

i always felt bipolar, but knew i wasn't because i never had a manic episode in my life...

upon finally being directed to a competent doctor, who immediately recognized my disability as Bipolar Spectrum Disorder, which while not as debilitating as pure BP, had me cycling between depression and severe irritability with plenty of anxiety thrown in...

two weeks of medication straightened me out and provided me with more peace of mind, hope and happiness than a year sitting zazen daily...

don't get me wrong, i will continue to sit zazen and understand it's place in my life and healing, but there are times where modern meds work wonders...

i, too, felt like you and would not touch a drug or see a doctor for that matter unless I was bleeding from my eyeballs...

well, after hitting rock bottom and losing my wife of 15 years, i got myself properly medicated (antidepressants actually worsened my condition) and my life has changed - with the help of a little blue pill that i take each morning...

i'm just saying...

Jinzang said...

Just wanted to add that there are some people for whom paruresis is a genuine problem. Some people have it so bad that they can never use public restrooms. But it's not a medical problem if you can't urinate on command. It's a problem of our screwed up society which makes urinating on command a job requirement. So you shouldn't be looking for a medical solution, you should be looking for a political or social solution to this problem.

Jinzang said...

i think you're talking out of the side of your mouth with your bullshit regarding crazymeds...

One of the distinctions Hahnemann draws in the Organaon of Medicine is between apparent disease and genuine disease. Apparent disease is caused by errors in lifestyle, poor environment, and external stressors. When these are removed, the apparent disease resolves. For example, if you only get three hours of sleep tonight, you're going to start having health problems. And these problems will probably resolve when you get your needed amount of sleep. And some mental problems will resolve through the practice of meditation. Genuine disease, on the other hand, cannot be resolved by correcting these factors and requires medical therapy.

On the one hand I think Brad understimates the percentage of genuine mental disease. It's not uncommon for new meditators to have medical problems and this fact is one of the factors that got me interested in homeopathy. On the other hand conventional doctors, at least in the United States, tend to see all mental problems as medical issues and overprescribe powerful medications, adding a new problem on top of the old.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I don't usually do this but I'm going to leave a comment having gone through years of general anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia.

Firstly, I'm not sure Brad is fully qualified to answer questions on this particular subject having never experienced it first hand, and neither do I see him specialising in it. I think he states this view himself in this article. Maybe some of you are expecting a little too much from him?

Secondly. I think he's spot on.

I practically begged for medication when I was first knocked down by anxiety. Fortunately for me and my (at the time) uneducated mind, I was refused. Besides the initial annoyance I've been grateful to my doctor ever since.

What I have learned in my years of dealing with anxiety and talking to hundreds of others about it, is that medication is RARELY refused. They're handed out like sweets, very often to people who don't need them.

My anxiety at the time, on a scale of one to ten, I would have put at a 10 much of the time. And sure, anything to bring that down would've made me happy, but I only recall ONCE, out of a 7 year period that I felt I absolutely NEEDED medication. I spent three days in my room thinking I was going insane, so tense I could sense an iminent implosion, in constant pain literally waiting for the moment I 'popped'. Anyway, I never had medication to hand and I didn't go insane. In fact my anxiety is a thing of the past now, and has been for several years.

That's not to say I couldn't have benefitted from medications. But they could have been just as negative. Meds don't cure underlying problems, they're there to help you work on those problems, often in conjunction with therapy such as CBT. Yet they're rarely prescribed in that way. Out of all the people I've spoken to, very few of them have really benefitted. Most of whom are in just as bad states as they ever were, using their medications as a crutch, often with worrying addictions. They're certainly not a miracle cure.

But Brad doesn't claim that they have no use, which seems to be the opinion formed by those responding to his posts. They sure do, and I always carefully considered the use, but they really are a LAST RESORT.

In the western world, they're currently so often the first resort.

Mysterion said...
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Anonymous said...

I took anti-depressants from 01-06 to 05-07. Big mistake. I now feel like my mind has been scrambled beyond repair.
Please be CAREFUL! Unless you are hearing voices in your head, I would stay away from all psychological drugs.
Just a friendly warning.

Marty O said...

I wonder how much of the anti-drug ethos in Zen reflects the Japanese stigma attached to mental health treatment. Brad, I'd be real curious to hear your thoughts on this.

Seems like a lot of comments are fall into these camps: (a) always stay away from doctors and their drugs; (b) consider that medical treatment is sometimes appropriate.
I know which sounds more to me like the ol' middle way.
I'm hypoglycemic and I've got arthritis at age 32. But it could be worse: my brother has a heart murmur, and my dad has really bad high blood pressure. No one's going to seriously suggest that we ignore medical treatment for these issues.
But my wife's aunt doesn't produce neurotransmitters properly. Without her meds, she literally cannot "calm down." And yet people actually suggest that she stop taking medication that helps regulate her brain chemistry, thereby giving her the freedom to go outside and shop for groceries.
So let's keep a sense of perspective. It's just as irresponsible to say "Never use any medical treatments!" as it is to say "All your problems will be solved by medical treatments!"

All I know is, after I buried six close family members in five months, my depression got to the point that I just couldn't make the changes I needed to make. So I got help. Six months on antidepressants, coupled with therapy, exercise, zazen, and other aspects of a treatment plan helped me get it together.

Jules said...

Brad wrote: But unless you’re up against someone like the Nazis it may be better to avoid declaring war. My take on the use of anti-depressants and similar drugs is like that.

Wow, Godwined in the Boobies.

Brad's take on antidepressants is a little exaggerated. He's never taken them and has no idea what these drugs really do, and is understandably cautious about the unknown... and therefore completely unqualified to spout advice as if he's an authority on the topic. Sorry Brad, you know I love ya, but I gotta call you out on this one. The anonymous poster above had it exactly right.

They aren't magic happy pills. I didn't find them habit forming. In fact, I couldn't wait to get off 'em (some of the side effects are... inconvenient).

They are a TOOL to help break the vicious cycle of depression > demotivation > neglect of self/others > depression.

They help people get back on their feet and start eating better, getting more exercise, and dealing with whatever issues are causing the depression (assuming it's not a genetic biochemical issue that can only be treated with medication anyway).

Frankly, taking antidepressants sucks. I've tried Prozac, Effexor, Wellbutrin, and Lexapro. Lexapro was the best of the bunch, and I still hated taking it. I felt off-kilter the whole time I was taking them and for a couple months afterward, and the side effects sucked. I would only ask for another antidepressant prescription if I was simply not functioning and really needed help.

There's a lot of talk about "last resort vs. first resort" here. Yes, unfortunately antidepressants are sometimes prescribed by under-educated healthcare providers as a cure rather than as a temporary treatment to help someone the way they helped me and the anonymous person above.

You wouldn't recommend that a person with a sprained ankle only use crutches "as a last resort", simply because some doctors are handing them out without also prescribing physical therapy exercises.

If the depression is bad enough that you can't find the motivation to exercise or cook a nice meal for yourself, and you feel a need to go to the doctor, get a prescription, and are willing to endure all those nasty side effects, then the depression is bad enough that the antidepressants are justified as a first resort.

Hopefully your physician is of high quality and will also ask about your diet, exercise habits, and lifestyle choices, and give you other tools to help you find and fix the cause of the depression.

Personally, (nod to Chas) I bet well more than half the cases of depression in modern society can be solely attributed to poor diet, exercise, and sleep habits. But it's tough to get motivated about exercise and eating well when you see no point in dragging your sorry ass out of bed in the morning.

Philbob: It sometimes takes a while for your chemistry to rebalance. Hopefully you'll feel better in a few months. Meanwhile, get plenty of exercise, take a daily multivitamin, eat lots of fruits and veggies, and try to get eight or nine hours of sleep a night.

Anonymous said...

But no one is saying 'never use medical treatments'.

I'm finding that all the pro-medication comments are completely invalid for that reason. You're arguing something that wasn't said.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"You're arguing something that wasn't said."

We aren't arguing anything. Some of us are revealing a meandering stream of consciousness stimulated by a 'push' against psychotropic medication.

SSRIs mess with your brain chemistry - but nobody is sure why or how.

Meditation also effects affect.

So the choices you have are based on a couple of things:

1) If you are against the wall (Nazis) then medication may help
2) If you have wiggle room, then meditation may be the better choice

I always try to remember to tell my clients: "Nobody can ever be completely certain of anything." Sometimes, owing to my advancing years and present state of decay, I forget. Oh well.

Jules said...

Mysterion wrote: So the choices you have are based on a couple of things:

1) If you are against the wall (Nazis) then medication may help
2) If you have wiggle room, then meditation may be the better choice

Or getting more exercise, or eating better, or getting the right amount of sleep... as you mentioned earlier. Getting more exercise made a huge difference for me, enough that I didn't need the meds anymore.

Mysterion said...

Jules said...
"Getting more exercise made a huge difference for me."

An easy read (if you know someone with 'depression') is:
"Walking Your Blues Away"

Thom is an Xtian and walking is good as a non-impact exercise while avoiding eastern mysticism like 'Yang Short Form' (nothing mystic about it). If the book helps someone - fine.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes feel that Brab emphasizes self-reliability a little but too much. I've done that for a long time, too.
Might be because in his story he didn't need a lot of help from outside. Or didn't accept it. I am not different as I said.

There are people who can't help themselves in certain situations.
But they have to start to help themselves once they get "stable" enough.

A friend had serious manic depression disorders and even had an almost succesful suicide attempt. 2 years later he is able to take care about himself really like a normal person even he has to continue some mild medication and therapy.

I am no fan of drugs in any case, but I am not on the Scientology "drugs create the disease" track...

Anonymous said...

dave ego again - the aging nyhc scenester who said that mr. warner was talking out of the side of his mouth.

A lot of the following emails were in regard to straight up antidepressants...

For years I resisted treatment because I knew of the effects of these horrible chemicals and didn't want to be a zombified limp-dicked robot feeling just even enough each day to make it to work and back again each day.

My wife and I always joked that I had a lot of characteristics of Bipolar Disease, but had never experienced anything even close to a manic state. After being prescribed Effexor (an antidepressant) by my GP (who BTW don't stay up on the latest issues in mental wellness). I was bouncing off the walls and uncontrollably shaking for days,until I say a qualified doctor, who diagnosed me correctly with Bipolar Spectrum Disorder - or Bipolar Lite. Unlike a full-blown manic-depressive, I cycled between states of extreme misery and extreme irritability with a good dose of anxiety thrown in the mix. Once I did a bit of research on this condition, I wasn't thrilled with the BiP DX, but agreed that as blunt a diagnostic tool as the DSM-IV is, the description fit me perfectly - a certain percentage of folks with Bipolar II (or BP Spectrum Disorder) don't experience the "hypomanic" state as pleasurable, but resulting in extreme irritability up to and including blind black rages for no apparent reason. Believe me. I lost my beloved wife and love of 19 years because she could not stand to live with someone who was Bipolar.

Interestingly enough headshrinkers often aren't able to make a proper DX until the see the results of the prescribed medication.

Oddly enough, the medication that has done no less than change my life, Lamictal, is primarily used to prevent severe seizures and its secondary use to control BPD was only discovered later. What's a bit creepy is that nobody has the slightest idea how any of this works. The best understanding I could gain after reading the PI sheets (the info they give to the docs - not the little sheet that comes with your 'script) is that the drug serves to inhibit electrical signals that use sodium channels as pathways.

Also, next to no side effects except I find myself a bit more forgetful, and for some reason can no longer spell - especially the easy words - for shit.

If I ever had any idea that a little blue pill in the morning could so change my outlook, I would have lined up years ago.

Is there still a place in my life for zazen and some more homeopathic remedies? Yes. But you can have my meds back only when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.

Mysterion said...

Psychotropic medication has different results in youth, maturation, and >the aged. Serum levels are rarely achieved in less than six weeks of ingestion. I don't know ANY psychiatrists that order a blood panel at the 6th week or 6th month. Many doctors respond more to ads in JAMA and less to patient interviews. 'Tranq em.'

And these chemicals are toxic and potentially harmful over the long term. At the very least, people should consider taking a summer vacation from their meds. Consult your physician during the spring if this appeals to you. If s/he is not open to the idea, consider another physician.

"Refrain from smoking, drinking, or using any drugs, including caffeine."

I left my pipe in the bar, next to my Irish Coffee. I'm gonna go get 'em now.


Anonymous said...

I certainly appreciate hearing Brad's ideas on my medical/psychological problem. I've dealt naturally with this quite embarressing aspect of my life for 16 years and only now have tried medication. The two reasons for this are that I and my family rely on my career and that I'm absolutly fed up at having to choose places to eat that have single occupancy bathrooms (avoiding airplanes, meditation retreats, carnivals ..pretty much anything that involves public urinatin). I know how dumb this all sounds but I'm just through being embarressed by it all. Let me just say a few more things. I was hoping to use this medication like a butter knife to get up the corner of a sticker. Once it's up I want to discard the knife and peal it the rest of the way by myself. All of you who said that Brad is not qualified to give medical advice are absolutly correct. We have to know the limitations of all those we consult and ultimately decide for ourselves what will work in our lives, however, my question was about my practice and I beleive that in that feild Brad's insights are worthy of consideration. Lastly, Drinking tons of water does increase the biological urge to pee which in turn puts more immediate pressure on the outcome thus increasing the anxiety and making the whole thing near impossible. When I was younger I was hospitalized with amonia poisioning following a long plane ride and, trust me, I had to go very bad. Thanks for your comments and thank you Brad for your time and consideration. Oh, and pardon any spelling mistakes --never has been my strong point.

Anonymous said...

Anon- Hats off to you for all your effort in working with your body/mind condition! I wish you increasing awareness. Take Care...

dood said...

"who says there is a limit to how may posts on a single blog your'er allowed to have in a day? so uh yeah, PISS OFF, buddy. mysterion has as much a right as anyone else to post as often as they want here. besides, his post keep it interesting between brad's wisdoms of the day."

who says i have to read any of this BS? (buddhist shit)

and who says we all can't PISS OFF?

take care

Anonymous said...

dood: good idea. besides its Fun to be pissed and its fun to piss off!


Jinzang said...

Brad gets profiled by the Ohio press.

Mr. Desmond said...

Looking forward to meeting you tonight in Akron. I gotta make the trip down from Cleveland during rush hour, so I hope I don't miss your opening plate-spinning skit :)

I'll be the long-haired dude that will look really out of place in a public library.

Ellen said...

Does strike anyone else as funny that all these comments on experiences with mental illness and "crazymeds" are on the blog that Brad described thusly in his I Get Letters post: "The comments section here is like a visit to the nut house"?

Mysterion said...

Ellen said...
"Does strike anyone else as funny that all these comments on experiences with mental illness"

Yep. 15 years ago, my neighbor, across the street, heard voices in his engine and took his car completely apart in his driveway. The police? They knocked on my door as Hisa-chan and I are block captains for home alert. Yep, he had been missing his MEDs for a few days (the voices told him he didn't need his MEDs).

So we had him put on a 72 hour 5150 and medicated while a couple of neighbors cleaned up his old car.

As a person who worked with 'educational psychologists' and young adults for almost 25 years, I can say: "The average kid is a statistical anomaly."

I have long been an advocate of a 'quiet time' of 5 or 10 minutes in the public school system but right wingnuts consider it Buddhist Cult stuff. However, such a quiet time would go a long way in instilling self-control in our young people.

Blake said...

Something else that needs to be looked at is the overuse of Prozac has resulted in it being in our water supply. Prozac is water-soluble and the treatment plants are not equipped to remove it. And I'm sure you all remember your water cycles from grade school science? Well, we pee it out, it gets scrubbed, dumped, evaporated and then shows back up in our drinking water. Who knows what the eventual effect will be?


Mysterion said...

Blake said...
"the overuse of Prozac "

that's just the tip of the iceberg.

we are over medicating almost every person in the U.S. for almost everything.

PHARMAs rule the US government - they bought and paid for it.

Exercise and diet. Exercise and diet. Exercise and diet. Exercise and diet. Exercise and diet. Exercise and diet.

Anonymous said...

Wow loads of thoughts on medication and zazen eh? Any thoughts on ME and the use of zen/meditation to help it?

I have been diagnosed with ME, have been pushed amitriptyline for pain etc but aren't happy about it.

Sitting zazen I find very beneficial, but have to kneel on a bench, and it helps me to deal with the reality that is me with ME.

Mysterion said...

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
"No treatment has been proven to benefit patients with M.E. in large randomized controlled trials."

The chemicals that factory farms pump into beef and chicken end up in our gut - unless we avoid them.

I would seriously look first at diet. Avoid foods that are laced with chemicals when they are grown and processed. The good ol' Hindu diet.

Carbs create energy - but not over processed carbs (e.g. avoid white breads, cookies and cakes).

I would suggest low fat Chili beans over steamed rice a couple of times a week... We eat tofu with five pepper spice & soy sauce with glutinous short grain rice. Unfortunately, the human gut is a little too long for meat and a little too short for a purely vegetarian diet. Some boiled (never fried) organically grown meats may be necessary.

I'm not going to advocate a generic 'Celexa 10mg' in the short term (E.G. 6 MONTHS). Consult your physicians about that. Always get 2 opinions.

Coffee and red tea is the best hype. Get organic free trade shade grown coffee. Help with the ethical treatment of coffee farmers!

Anonymous said...

thanks for your advice Mysterion. I don't know about celexa but as for fair trade I can't drink coffee anyway, even de-cafe has a purging effect on me! Like redbush/roobosh

Diet is one thing I'm trying to reach a balance on, tend to swing to one extreme or the other but the pendulum is slowing :o)

esmerelda_verde said...

First marketing talks us in to eating high fat, high calorie food, laced with chemicals, driving cars even when we could walk, wanting expensive toys so we have to keep our high stress jobs. Then when we become ill it sells us a magic pill. Clearly America is the best of all possible worlds.

PS Its kind of catch 22 to expect mentally ill people to avoid psych med hype from the big pharma. I had a physical problem and it took me 8 months to get past the prescription first, diagnosis second treatment.

PPS the only drugs I use are the ones in coffee and chocolate.

Mysterion said...

Anonymous said...
"a purging effect"

Now HERE is a clue!

Seriously, try steamed rice - which you then thin even more with a little boiling water and either a little chicken or beef broth - which YOU make (no packaged stuff).

Get whatever is cheapest - but organic (e.g. wings) and low boil them until all the meat and cartilage falls off the bones. Cool so you can separate and discard all the floating fat and skin (where most of the chemicals are). You need to 'calm your gut.'

When you first go on a diet, it's tough. But after 3-4 weeks, it's easier. At age 60, I managed to shed 30+ pounds in just over 7 months and feel a whole lot better!

My clue was sitting Zazen became more difficult and (unlike many others) I accepted sitting in a chair, over sized Zafu, or standing meditation as more or less the same thing. All have their place, but Zazen is really the best way to experience "The Hour of the Wolf." Sorry, I was kidding with that last comment, 'the Vargtimmen' or wolf time is just that twilight time before sunrise. It is best to finish Zazen meditation just before the sun appears. I was otherwise twisted by watching all of the Bergman films.


aumeye said...

At the moment, I cannot think of one person I know who is not on some kind of antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. I am the odd one out; and I'm not so sure that my resisting is such a good thing.

The beneficial effects for many of them is observable. And there are little, if any, apparent negative effects. I do agree that drugs are prescribed more often than they should be. However, I do not support the idea that they should be so readily dismissed as a means of helping someone to find relief from the often debilitating effects of anxiety and depression.

There are a multitude of theories about what causes these problems, and unless we have fully examined all of them, and then assessed each case, I don't feel we are in a strong enough position to determine the right course of action for any individual sufferer.

Whatever gets you through the night; it's all right; it's all right.

Jinzang said...

Sometime depression can be resolved through life changes such as diet, exercise, and meditation. Other times not, It's irresponsible to suggest a course of treatment for any serious illness without seeing and talking to the person who has it. Each person is different and each case of depression is different.

There are more options to treat depression than brown rice and veggies or SSRIs. Find out about them.

Gerry Gomez said...

"Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness."

--Blaise Pascal

Gerry Gomez said...

And from the decider in chief:

"I hear the voices, and I read
the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider,
and I decide what is best."

--George W. Bush

Lone Wolf said...

I hope your movie premiere and concert went well Brad. Wish I could have made it up there.

esmerelda_verde said...

Wow, I guess we are the nutberger site but at least we aren't boring.

Aumeye, I know some people, not everyone I know, who are or used to be on antidepressants etc. One side effect I would consider majorly serious, if not apparent is loss of interest in sex. Another is being too happy. Gaining tons of weight. A third is suicide attempts. My boyfriend's brother has been on meds for years, he hasn't been able to hold a job and is now homeless, he has an MBA, used to be a banker. My best friend and her husband are going the same route. This is hardly a scientific sample but t research not funded by a drug company, indicates that sometimes they work and sometimes they make things worse or produce side effects the patient cannot tolerate.

I think getting drugs or other treatment properly adjusted to the patient is as you and Jinzang suggest the key.

It should not be an either/or choice. The New York Times has run a number of articles from the NE Journal of Medicine sudies show that improvements in diet and excercise and counseling combined with meds work better than meds alone. Adding a little Zen to the mix will probably kick it up a bit. Actually my friend's shrink suggested exercise and meditation, sadly she ignored the idea.

PS I don't know any thing about ME but I have 2 friends with MS both of whom have been doing restoritive yoga and meditation which seems to help a lot.

esmerelda_verde said...

Excuse the crummy spelling on the previous post, it's after midnight here. I am sitting at work watching the mainframe run my jobs very very slowly. Anyone know good psych meds for an IBM TSO/MVS operating system?

aumeye said...

I agree with much of what esmeralda_verde said on this topic. I, too, am familiar with the many potential negative effects of these now well-discussed meds. It's just that, in my circle, none (well, one is having some difficulty) of the people on them are suffering those ill effects . . . fortunately.

I especially like your point, esmerelda, about supplementing whatever treatment one is receiving with meditation and exercise.

Realizing that each person's situation is, potentially, dramatically different from anyone else's, is vital. Also, I think the idea asserted by Jinzang, of exploring other means of treating a psychological problem is one that needs to be adopted by more professionals.

I also have a fuller knowledge about some of this than I did a long time ago, as it is directly related to my educational and professional experience. This is not meant to say that I am an expert and so my opinion has more weight than some others; it's merely intended to instruct anyone bothering to read my opinion that I am not entirely ignorant to the intricacies and complexities of the matter.

Still, we are all pretty knowledgeable about such things from our own experiences, the experiences of those we know, and the things we hear, see, and read from a wide variety sources.

There are some divergent and well-articulated opinions on the topic, clearly reflected on this blog. It is relatively young field that is evolving at a rapid pace; so I think it's an important dialogue to maintain. It helps all of us to better understand and attend to our own struggles and the struggles of others.

Anonymous said...

So who is the one suffering and who is the one taking meds??

aumeye said...

So who is the one suffering and who is the one taking meds??

As you already know, each could be either or both.

Jinzang said...

So who is the one suffering and who is the one taking meds??

Even answering that question will not end your problems.