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Annotated Links #2

Neuroskeptic iconNeuroskepticBy NeuroskepticMay 13, 2009 8:20 PM


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In the NY Times, Daphne Merkin writes about her life with recurrent and "treatment-resistant" depression. A Journey Through Darkness is eloquent and honest, but it offers no convincing explanations as to the origin of her bouts of melancholy. Sometimes she is depressed and then eventually the state passes. In Merkin's account, and in my personal experience, being depressed is a brute fact. It is experienced, not understood. To call it a "journey" or anything else which implies some kind of narrative is misleading. And when a depression passes, it goes with a whimper not a bang:

It was about 4:30, the time of day that, by mid-August, brings with it a whiff of summer’s end. I looked up into the startlingly blue sky; one of the dogs was sitting at my side, her warm body against my leg, drying me off after the swim I had recently taken. I could begin to see the curve of fall up ahead. There would be new books to read, new films to see and new restaurants to try. I envisioned myself writing again, and it didn’t seem like a totally preposterous idea. I had things I wanted to say. Everything felt fragile and freshly come upon, but for now, at least, my depression had stepped back, giving me room to move forward. I had forgotten what it was like to be without it, and for a moment I floundered, wondering how I would recognize myself. I knew for certain it would return, sneaking up on me when I wasn’t looking, but meanwhile there were bound to be glimpses of light if only I stayed around and held fast to the long perspective. It was a chance that seemed worth taking.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences issues a welcome statement condemning "lie-detector" peddlers Nemesysco for their attempt to gag two Swedish scientists. (See also Ministry of Truth for an extensive take-down of Nemesysco and all who use their products). Although, given that this happened several months ago, they certainly took their time about it...

Incidents of this kind are a threat to research freedom and, by extension, to the free dissemination of information in society. Threats to sue must not be used to restrict scientific discussion.

Finally, I know I said I don't believe in music reviews, but Neko Case is brilliant.

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