Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Upcoming DSM V

 Somewhere there is a group of mental health professionals creating DSM V.  We hear that some diagnoses are going to be revised extensively, in ways that are going to affect insurance and government benefits.

I imagine these effete intellectuals, ensconced in luxurious meeting rooms, discussing the scholarly correctness of obscure terminology in light of the most advanced research, people assured of high income by their esoteric expertise, imagining that the academic integrity of their writing is the highest goal they can strive for, fundamentally out of reach of the people whose lives their deliberations will affect, perhaps even devastate.

This is the wrong process.  Since the determinations that these people make will so dramatically affect benefits, potentially for millions of people, a more transparent process is needed, preferably involving open meetings and government oversight.

The classification of phenomena into categories is a pedantic endeavor that can never finish, because, fundamentally, natural phenomena are not clearly classifiable.  Categories can keep morphing indefinitely, often in response to relatively minor concerns, and may change back and forth, fairly arbitrarily.

If only academics are affected, there is no harm in so altering categories.   When millions of people are affected, the burden of trying to achieve pedantic perfection weighs too heavily on the public.  The academic process of classifying natural phenomena should not determine the nature of insurance and government benefits.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On the use of pseudonyms

I published my novels under a pseudonym.  I did this because I did not want my novels to come up on an Internet search by someone associated with my day job, which is in a completely different field.

More recently, I have taken on several pseudonyms on the Internet -- so that I look like several different people, at least to the casual observer.  Presumably a sophisticated observer could figure it out, but not someone just doing a simple Google search.

When I take on a new pseudonym, I feel free to say whatever I feel like with that pseudonym; however, in the context of social media, I soon make friends and enemies -- and then have a community of people surrounding me.  I start having the same concerns with respect to that community that I have with respect to  people in in my real name life -- worrying about my reputation, becoming more careful about what I say, feeling constrained.

After a while, the pseudonym becomes my name in some sense, and is less and less a pseudonym and more and more a representation of me.  Then I feel like I should make a new pseudonym.

The irony of this is that this pseudonym, the one I am posting with here, is the one I would most like to draw attention to, since I am trying to sell my novels -- and, yet, this one is the one that has attracted the least attention and remains without a community.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

My gluten & dairy free rationale

I am writing this essay at the request of http://glutenfreeworks.com/

I first learned of gluten & dairy free diets from other parents, after my son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.  One man, in particular, was a doctor, who had his autistic daughter on this diet and found that it helped.  

My son, at that point, was 10 years old.  He was unwilling to go gluten and dairy free.  People with autistic spectrum disorders are not known for being cooperative.  

I decided to try it myself.  I was startled by the results.  I felt much calmer and clearer.  I came to realize that when I ate wheat and dairy I experienced rage, anxiety, and confusion.  I was embarrassed later to realize that there were incidents where I had been wrongfully rageful for no reason, due to what I was eating.

Later, I was myself diagnosed with mild Asperger's Syndrome.

I found, though, that I was not able to stay on the gluten and dairy free diet, because I was addicted to desserts and those foods tend contain gluten and dairy.  

I had to join Overeaters Anonymous to get off addictive, sweetened foods and snacking, in order to stay sane.  I also lost 50 lbs in the process.  

For anyone concerned with the Overeaters Anonymous tradition of anonymity, I should mention that Annalisse Mayer is a pseudonym that I used for writing my novels, not my real name.

I found, also, that when I eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet, I actually began eating a much greater variety of foods.  I believe that this variety is healthier than what I was eating before, just in general.

Sadly, my doctor friend was not able to keep his autistic daughter on the gluten and dairy free diet, because his ex-wife and the daughter's school would not cooperate.

I recently read an article about celiac at 
 This article explained that celiac symptoms do not have to be digestive.

My mother had celiac as a baby.  She was one of the first people saved from this illness, by being fed bananas instead of her usual diet.  Nevertheless, she resumed eating wheat as an older person.  She suffered from emotional issues all her life and, ultimately, dementia aggravated by emotional issues.  She was frequently agitated and hysterical -- and had severe insomnia.   In retrospect, I suspect that her life would have been much better quality if she had stayed off the gluten in later life, even though the digestive symptoms were much less severe.  She always had severe constipation and more frequent nausea than other people, but not the vomiting and diarrhea she experienced as a child, so she thought she was ok.  

I learned that, in families where one child has celiac, there is frequently another family member who is shorter in stature than other family members and has undiagnosed digestive/intestinal issues.  This matches my aunt exactly.  My mother  also said that my rages reminded her of her sister, my aunt.

I also learned that celiac can be a generation skipping disease.  My great grandmother died of what was then diagnosed as intestinal tuberculosis at age 28.  I have long suspected that that was in fact celiac.

I believe that I have sub-clinical celiac; but the symptoms I get from gluten are sufficiently severe, from an emotional and cognitive perspective, that I do not care to experiment with it in order to get an official diagnosis.

I have much clearer lactose intolerance than gluten intolerance.  I get severe intestinal pain from dairy.   Prior to going dairy free, though, I used to eat a lot of hard cheese, which did not have enough lactose to cause me intestinal pain.  Nevertheless, I believe that it was causing me emotional & cognitive issues, like the wheat.  I suspect that this was due to the casein (milk protein) in cheese.

To a lesser extent, I get intestinal pain from oats, so I believe I am also avenin intolerant.  I do not get the same bloating that I get from dairy, but I do get very bad pain -- and it is worse with oat bran than with plain oats.

Once I had an opportunity to speak with a woman who suffers from MSUD.  This is a congenital disease that causes intolerance of four amino acids.  I questioned her as what symptoms she got when she went off her low protein regimen.  She said that the first thing that would alert her that she had had too much of her critical amino acids were the very types of emotional and cognitive issues that I had noticed with gluten & dairy.  This also tended to confirm my intention to stay off wheat and dairy.

I still do sometimes have butter, as I believe it does not contain lactose or casein.