MonthJune 2018

Reading of the Week: Marijuana Policy After Legalization; Also, Remembering Charles Krauthammer

From the Editor

Last week, the Senate voted 52 to 29 in favour of Bill C-45, clearing the last hurdle for marijuana legalization. The federal government is aiming for implementation in the fall.

So, what now?

In the first selection, the University of Toronto’s Tony P. George et al. discuss a “framework” for cannabis policy post-legalization. This Canadian Journal of Psychiatry perspective paper is prescriptive, aiming to reduce the negative effects of the legal change. They make six recommendations, including a national strategy for education.


senate-11

Also, in this week’s Reading, we consider the life and psychiatric contributions of Charles Krauthammer, who died last week at age 68. Dr. Krauthammer is best known for his political commentary, but he had a career in psychiatry before becoming a prominent essayist, and penned a classic paper on “secondary mania.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Smoking Cessation & Incentives – the NEJM Paper

From the Editor

“So to put it simply, forcing people to choose is not always wise, and remaining neutral is not always possible.” University of Chicago economist Richard H. Thaler and Harvard Law School Professor Cass R. Sunstein write this comment in their widely-read book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness. They argue that people could be nudged in a certain direction, improving outcomes. Among the book’s fans: former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and former US President Barack Obama.

Thaler and Sunstein write about shaping basic decisions, like encouraging people to choose among their company’s pension plans. Retirement planning can significantly help people with their finances in their twilight years. But what about substance use? The stakes seem higher: smoking cessation can prevent major health problems long before retirement.

This week, we look at a new paper by University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s Dr. Scott D. Halpern and his co-authors. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine, they consider smoking cessation and find “financial incentives added to free cessation aids resulted in a higher rate of sustained smoking abstinence than free cessation aids alone…”

file-20170804-6503-18ujgw6Nudging people to butt out?

In this week’s Reading, we consider the paper and its implications. (There is, however, no financial incentive offered here.)

DG

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Reading of the Week: On Spade, Suicide, and the New CDC Report

From the Editor

“I didn’t know Kate Spade, who hanged herself with a red scarf in her bedroom on Tuesday at the age of 55, other than through the prism of her insistently cheerful and whimsical accessories. But everything about Ms. Spade and her designs suggested a sunny temperament, from her candy-colored aesthetic to the perky image she projected. We have a hard time squaring a seemingly successful woman — one with a highflying career, a family and heaps of money — with a despondency so insinuating that it led her to end it all. All this helps explain why Fern Mallis, the former director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and a friend of Ms. Spade’s, called her death ‘so out of character.’ In fact, it turned out that the bubbly girl from Kansas City ‘suffered from depression and anxiety for many years,’ as her husband, Andy, said.”

So writes novelist Daphne Merkin The New York Times. In the essay, Merkin writes about her depression and her own suicidal thoughts.

Kate Spade. Then Anthony Bourdain.

It’s been a remarkable few days.

bourdain-obama-429e2fd0-b412-4a22-804a-acb7a25d8d43Anthony Bourdain with President Barack Obama

In this Reading, we look at the new CDC report on suicide in the United States. Suicide rates south of the 49thparallel have risen nearly 30% since 1999. We consider the paper and its implications.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Alastair Campbell on his Brother, his Life and his Schizophrenia

From the Editor

“So, my schizophrenia story. Well, the story is mine, but the schizophrenia was Donald’s. He would happily have told you his story himself, for he was very proud of the life he led, given the seriousness of the condition. Sadly, he can’t, as he is dead. So I will tell his story instead.”

Alastair Campbell is many things. He is the author of more than a dozen books. He is a former press secretary and director of communications for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. He is the father of three.

And he’s the brother of a person who had schizophrenia.

In this week’s Reading, we consider his speech for the Schizophrenia International Research Society, “The Shittiest of all the Shitty Illnesses.” He discusses his brother’s illness and its impact on his family – and he also talks about his brother.

stream_imgAlastair Campbell

In this Reading, we consider Campbell’s comments, and also the larger issue of reduced life expectancy for those with severe mental illness.

DG

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