Posted in reviews

Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution by John V. Wylie Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A detailed and humanizing book takes readers on an emotional journey through the stigma of mental illness in author John V. Wylie’s book “Emotional Fossils: Mental Illness and Human Evolution.” 

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The Synopsis

This essay is the culmination of forty-five years as a psychiatrist investigating the relationship between severe mental illnesses and human evolution. I have concluded that the most important changes leading to our evolutionary success occurred inside the mind. Upright posture, large molar teeth, opposable thumbs, large brains, and the onset of culture were additive responses to the evolution of what MOTIVATED early humans.

The inner experiences of major depression, panic disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are shown to derive from the breakdown of normal emotions we all know intimately. These everyday feelings are ancient, have played a central role in our evolution, and thus can be viewed as “emotional fossils.” Stigmatized for centuries, mental illnesses are revealed to be the price we pay as a species for the extraordinary mental capacities that make us human.

Short and explicitly written to be accessible, this essay interprets the scientific findings of human evolution in accordance with an evolving mind.

The Review

At it’s core, this nonfiction, medical read takes readers into the heart of the painful stigma those who suffer from mental illness have to endure from those who don’t understand the illness itself. The book delves into how human evolution and the emotions we experience on a daily basis are closely involved with the development of these ailments, and the stigma has only increased the progression of these illnesses. 

This book is greatly detailed and creates a steady read for those who are interested in medicine, medical books and mental health awareness overall. The best way to review a book like this however is by relaying how it impacts readers, including myself. 

As a mental health advocate, this book truly spoke to me in a personal way. While detail oriented, the book creates a personal understanding in those involved in or even currently engaged in the mental health field. With two very close relatives having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, the stigma of what that illness does to a person is everywhere, especially in pop culture, and this book does a great job of breaking down those stigmas and getting to the heart of the illness overall. 

The Verdict

This is a brilliant read that fans of nonfiction medical reads will thoroughly enjoy. The author speaks with an authority and expertise that will make readers feel more knowledgeable of the subject after reading this book, and in an age where mental health awareness is more important than ever before, this is the perfect read going into the new decade. Be sure to grab your copy of “Emotional Fossils” by John v. Wylie today!

 Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

John Wylie holds a BA in history from Yale, an MD from Columbia, and completed a psychiatric residency at Georgetown University. He began his career at a maximum-security prison in Maryland, followed by 35 years in the private practice of psychiatry in Washington, DC, where he served as chair of the department of psychiatry at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Dr. Wylie was a founding member of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, has had a longstanding interest in the relationship of mental illness and human evolution, and has given multiple lectures on the topic. He wrote Diagnosing and Treating Mental Illness: A Guide for Physicians, Nurses, Patients, and Their Families,published in 2010 (second edition, 2012), and Ape Mind, Old Mind, New Mind in 2018, which is a memoir of the development of his ideas. Dr. Wylie lives in Olney, Maryland with his wife Ann and their German shepherd Tulip.

https://amzn.to/3668ko0

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Lynn Nanos

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing? ​

I never considered myself a writer until literally just a couple of days immediately preceding the start of creating Breakdown. Rather I considered myself a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. As I struggled to shake off the sense that something was missing within me professionally, the idea of writing a book about my profession came to me suddenly. I completed an online writing course, researched the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, purchased writing software, learned how to cite research, and began researching marketing techniques for books. I felt intrinsically rewarded upon completion of every major milestone. Sure there were obstacles to overcome, such as when the interior formatting company sent me a 20-page sample ridden with mistakes they refused to fix. And when my requests for testimonials to publish at the beginning of Breakdown were ignored. And when the first illustrator I hired plagiarized her work before I quickly fired and didn’t pay her. Writing a book takes intense commitment to the finished product. The recognition I’ve received from people has been priceless. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had done mental health advocacy work on a national scale for years before beginning to work on Breakdown and was very inspired by advocates’ tragic stories. Their stories motivated me to become a better social worker. I increasingly realized that there is no opportunity to influence legislators to change the system in the clinical setting. I didn’t feel that my employment was enough to make a difference in the world. Certain clinical cases were at the forefront of my memory because they were especially dramatic and shocking. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the world has to know these stories. Very few people are aware of the population I help and what they struggle with. Breakdown aims to close the gap between clinical and legislative settings. 

Breakdown Nanos

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The most common reason that approximately half of people with schizophrenia are unable to initiate treatment independently or adhere to treatment is anosognosia. This means they lack awareness of being ill. Anosognosia is a key factor contributing to the need for involuntary treatment. When schizophrenia goes untreated, the consequences can be deadly. I’ve detailed high profile cases based on media reports and my interviews with family members. These cases have involved people getting killed due to untreated mental illness. This statement is bound to make many people uncomfortable for fear of stigmatizing mental illness by suggesting that people with mental illness are violent. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yet a small subset of the population with untreated serious mental illness, especially involving psychosis, is more violent than the general population. Truth does not enhance stigma. I make a strong case in favor of involuntary outpatient treatment, otherwise known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Just three states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland – do not allow this while all other states and Washington, D.C. allow this life-saving treatment. Not coincidentally, Massachusetts has a very strong antipsychiatry movement. Groups promoting the belief that mental illness doesn’t exist are funded by the government and supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is wrong.  

4) Your novel was expertly crafted and showcased just how expertly researched and utilized the statistics were for the mental health care profession and mental health stats overall in our nation. Based on your research, what was one statistic that shocked you or would shock the average reader who is unaware of the problems facing the mental health profession or those suffering with mental health struggles?

The extent of malingering on inpatient and emergency settings is astronomical. According to a study, 12% of those admitted for emergency psychiatric care lied about their symptoms to get admitted to inpatient. The reasons for malingering vary. Malingerers drain health care resources and literally take away precious and limited inpatient bed space from those who truly need it. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

Facebook.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or anyone working in your field of study out there?

Please read Breakdown to learn from example or learn about emergency psychiatry. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects/studies on the horizon?

I am still working as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. I will not write another book, though plan on resuming blogging about my profession in the next few months. 

When it comes to therapy, there is no better site to find relationship advice from a licensed therapist than Regain. Click the link https://www.regain.us/advice/therapist/ to learn more!

About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

Posted in reviews

Breakdown: A Clinician’s Experience in a Broken System of Emergency Psychiatry (serious mental illness, psychosis, reform) by Lynn Nanos Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An in depth look into the world of mental health care and the ways in which it can be improved take center stage in Author Lynn Nanos novel Breakdown.

The Synopsis 

When hospitals release seriously mentally ill patients too soon without outpatient follow-up, the patients can end up homeless, jailed, harming others, or even dead. When patients are deemed suitable for inpatient care, they can languish for weeks in hospital emergency departments before placements become available. Meanwhile, patients who fake the need for care are smoothly and swiftly moved to inpatient settings.

Breakdown opens a dialogue with anyone interested in improving the system of care for the seriously mentally ill population. This book helps to answer questions such as:

  • Is inpatient care too inaccessible to those who need it most?
  • Do mental health professionals discriminate against mentally ill patients?
  • Are more stringent measures needed to ensure that patients take their medication?
  • Is borderline personality disorder too serious to be classified as just a personality disorder?

Using vignettes based on real interactions with patients, their families, police officers, and other mental health providers, Lynn Nanos shares her passion for helping this population. With more than twenty years of professional experience in the mental health field, her deep interest in helping people who don’t know how to request help is evident to readers.

  • A woman travels from Maine to Massachusetts because she was ordered by her voice, a spirit called “Crystal,” to make the trip.
  • A foul-smelling and oddly dressed man strolls barefooted into the office, unable to stop talking.
  • A man delivers insects to his neighbors’ homes to minimize the effects of poisonous toxins that he says exist in their homes.

Breakdown uses objective and dramatic accounts from the psychiatric trenches to appeal for simple and common-sense solutions to reform our dysfunctional system. This book will benefit anyone interested in seeing a glimpse of the broken mental health system way beyond the classroom. It can guide legislative officials, family members, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officers toward a better understanding of the system.

The Review 

As someone who has advocated for mental health awareness and seeks to improve and see the mental health education and rehabilitation of this world improve, this was a book that spoke volumes to me. The author does a spectacular job of presenting the struggles and heartbreak of the profession. From the book’s opening pages readers are shown the levels of illness and sad state of affairs for both the patients and the doctors attempting to treat them.

What really stuck out to me reading this novel was how the author wrote it all out in a methodical and precise tone of voice, and yet was still written in a way that the average reader, someone who isn’t an expert in the field of mental health, will be able to understand and empathize with. Each chapter elevates the struggle by showing not only individual cases the author worked, but the journey to fight for the rights for all mentally ill patients to seek help or get help they need. The details given by the author and the statistics laid out for the mandates for mental health by state showcase a lack of cohesive treatment plans and emphasizes the need to expand and grow the mental health profession in this nation and the world at large. 

The Verdict

A well written, powerful and heartbreaking non-fiction read that everyone should try for themselves. Breakdown by Lynn Nanos is a detailed and meticulous book that gives readers the inside look into a very under appreciated field, and novels like this are the steps needed to take the United States and the world forward into the mental health profession for both patients and care providers alike. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Part of taking care of one’s mental health and overall health in their daily relationships has to be seeking advice from counselors or those well versed in the hardships of any relationship. If you are looking for such advice, visit our friends at Regain to learn more by following this link https://www.regain.us/advice/ .

About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

Posted in Guest Post, mental health awareness

Guest Post: The Mental Health Struggles of Writers

This is Anthony Avina here. I’m happy to share with you guys this amazing guest post from the amazing people at BetterHelp and Regain about the mental health struggles of writers. I hope you guys will enjoy this post and gain some helpful insights into the life and mental health struggles writers go through.


Writing is a rich, rewarding profession; at least if you’re successful with it. However, even the most successful writers face mental health struggles. In this post, we will explain a few struggles a writer of any level may face.

Help for Your Struggles

Being a writer is hard, and sometimes you need to work on your own mental health to be a better writer. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, hopelessness, or need advice you should seek out the help you need. With so many writers busy at home, online therapy is becoming the new method of getting help. For more information, click this link: https://www.regain.us/advice/

The Fear of Rejection

Rejection is difficult for anyone to take, no matter your resistance to it. Rejection can come in many forms. If you’re a fiction author trying to publish the next great novel, getting dozens of rejection letters is a challenge. You just want to give up and keep your writing to yourself, or self-publish. Sure, you can hear inspiring stories about how the biggest authors got rejected hundreds of times, but it’s hard to stay motivated even then.

For a freelance writer, a potential client rejecting you and hiring someone else can be hurtful as well. You may wonder what you did wrong, and wonder if your work is any good at all. This especially applies if you don’t know why the rejection happened.

Getting past rejection is a challenge. While many say it gets better with time, others still struggle with it.

The Fear of Criticism

This is similar to the rejection fear. Your work gets out, and you want to hear what others are saying. Even if the reception is mostly positive, people tend to focus on the vocal minority of negative reviewers, and they may be upset or defensive over their work.

Even if you write the next great American novel, there is always going to be dissent. Handling criticism can be done in many ways. Some just ignore their critics, while others listen to the critics who have interesting points and see if they can make changes. With that said, don’t change your work just because you read a bad review.

The Struggle for Creativity

For some writers, creativity is always around the corner. For others, creativity comes in droplets. Writer’s block can affect a writer, and everyone fears it, especially if your income is dependent on your creativity.

Exercising creativity is a good way to get the juices flowing. Not overthinking your creativity is a good move too. Many people get their best ideas when they aren’t thinking too hard. However, this does not apply to everyone.

Staying Isolated

Many people dream of being writers because they like the idea of working from home, with no one watching you. However, many writers feel lonely or cooped up in their home, especially if they are single. However, even writers who have families may struggle with loneliness. If you have kids, teaching them the value of writing is a good way to get rid of that loneliness. For more information,   click here or look here.

That’s why some writers may go to coffee shops or other social gatherings. Alternatively, you can write in nature if you have a laptop and Internet access if your work requires that.

It’s a Rewarding, Yet Tough Career

If you can get past the mental health struggles of writing, it can be a rewarding career. When you have all the bumps bypassed, writing is great for the mind and can lead you down a path of creativity. Speak to other writers, or a therapist, if you’re having any struggles or doubts. People can help you, and you can succeed with your work.

Posted in mental health awareness

The Stigma Around Therapy and Why It Shouldn’t Exist

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

One of the most difficult things that anyone suffering from mental health ailments or anyone wanting to take control of their mental health struggles has to deal with is the social stigma that has taken over our society for years. Much like the societal stigma that has been placed on sexual and gender identity over the decades, a person’s mental health journey has been marred by the constant ridicule and ignorance of others who believe seeking help for your mental health is nothing more than a sign of weakness.

Breaking this ignorance can be difficult. Many families and individuals have spent their entire lives being taught that certain things are “wrong”. Even those who grow and learn to see past the stigma of certain things will still find themselves ignorant of things they say or do. For instance, I have known people in both my own life and outside on social media who are great people, but still use terms like “crazy” to describe a person, or even using actual ailments to describe a person negatively, like someone saying a person is “bipolar” and indicating that anyone with the ailment is painted in the same negative light.

These societal stigmas can be incredibly difficult to ignore or overcome. When you have the whole world telling you there is something wrong with you when in reality you are just a human being who needs a little help, it can be hard to make the effort to seek out a therapist or consider therapy in general. The thing we as a society need to do is break the social stigma around mental health and seeking therapy in general. 

First of all, seeking out a therapist or asking for help with your mental health does not mean you are “crazy”. I personally don’t believe that term is accurate, as it brings a negative light to something that everyone should be a part of. The mind is a muscle, and a part of the human body. It needs to be looked after and taken care of just as much as the rest of your body, and seeking a doctor or therapist to help in that regard is nothing to be ashamed of.

Secondly, therapy and seeking out a therapist in general does not make you an outsider, nor should it make you feel ashamed or like there is something “wrong” with you. The stigma around mental health has led to severe consequences, with the loss of life due to some not seeking the help they need increasing and personal impacts on people’s relationships and work lives being affected as well. 

Mental health is a real thing, whether or not people want to believe it. Seeking help doesn’t not make you weak. In fact, getting help for your mental health is smart and the strongest thing you can do. Guys, it doesn’t make you less of a man to seek help and get in touch with your feelings. Women, never let men or anyone in your life make you feeling “crazy” just for finding a therapist and taking care of your own well being. Everyone in this world can benefit from seeking out therapy and getting the help they need. Ignore anyone who tells you differently, and take the steps to find the help you need today.

Learn more about how to find online therapy using BetterHelp at this link —> CLICK HERE (opens in a new tab)”>CLICK HERE

Posted in mental health awareness

How Telehealth Can Transform The Mental Health Field

I am honored to be working with BetterHelp on this article.

For anyone such as myself who suffers from several physical disabilities or who don’t drive, one of the things that can be incredibly difficult is getting the right therapist and finding a way to get to them. Since I was sixteen years old I have suffered through several auto-immune diseases, and the pain gets so bad that I have a hard time going out into the world as often as I would like. 

The other thing that can be difficult is being subject to the therapists/doctors in your area or within driving distance, and not finding the right fit for you. Finding the right therapist is a crucial and important decision for anyone taking charge or getting help for their own mental health. From personal experience I can tell you that finding a therapist in your local area is not an easy thing. 

I have been with my sister when she goes to see a therapist for the first time, only to come away feeling frustrated, sad or angry because the therapist was rude, didn’t take her struggles seriously or dismissed her entirely. Between insurance and the local area we live in, there are very few choices for someone to find the right therapist to help you on your mental health journey. 

One of the things that can be a true help to those who struggle with issues like this in their mental health journey has to be telehealth/telemedicine. In this age of advanced technology and the internet bringing people together, one of the most innovative things to come to the health profession has to be online therapy. Rather than being forced to find a therapist in your local area or having to rearrange your schedule to include making trips out of the house (especially for those of us suffering from physical pain), online therapy is now available to those who can jump onto their computers or smartphones/tablets to connect with therapists via messaging, video calls or phone calls. 

The truly amazing thing about these services is that you have the ability to choose your therapist based on any mental ailments you may suffer from, as well as the therapists specific specialties (for instance, you can find therapists who deal with the LGBTQ community and the issues they face, or those suffering from family problems and more). In an era that has seen some truly devastating losses and the need for mental health care is far greater than ever before, having a therapist on hand to call or message with through the power of the internet is more helpful than ever. 

Choosing to find help for or taking control of your mental health is an important step that everyone should be taking. Whether you are suffering from a serious mental health illness or are having a difficult time with something personally or just want to maintain your health, therapy and working with the right doctor is crucial to your mental health journey. For me personally, having services like BetterHelp that allow me and my family to find therapists online that fit the journey we are on is important and helpful, and I highly encourage everyone to consider counseling and finding the councilor who will be the most help to you. 

Check out this link to learn more about finding the right councilor for you

CLICK HERE

Posted in Guest Post, Personal Blog Posts

The Basics of Bipolar Disorder (Guest Post)

Hi there my friends. I’m honored to once again be hosting a guest post from the incredible website BetterHelp. The post they’ve put together for you guys is near and dear to my heart, as Bipolar Disorder affects someone I love and care for dearly. I may talk about that in a separate post, but for now I hope this post will help anyone suffering from Bipolar Disorder or anyone who knows and loves someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Take special care to read the article and click the links, especially if any of you feel you need help in this regard. Thank you once again to BetterHelp for this amazing guest post, and I hope you all will enjoy it.

Anthony Avina

______________________________________________________________________________________

You may know it as manic-depressive disorder, but it is typically now referred to as bipolar disorder. This is a serious mental health disorder that affects close to three percent of the United States population. Bipolar disorder is a double-edged sword in that it causes both severe depression and mania or hypomania, which is an extremely high mood. There are several types of bipolar disorder, including bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia.

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by having at least one manic episode that lasts at least seven days and is followed by a depressive or hypomanic episode. Those with bipolar I disorder can also have psychosis, which is a period when emotions and thoughts are impaired so much that you are no longer able to tell what is real and what is not real. This sometimes includes hallucinations.

Bipolar II Disorder

This condition consists of having more than one period of depression and a period of hypomania but no manic episode. Hypomania is a less severe type of mania that causes some manic episodes but you can still perform your daily activities. Many people with bipolar II disorder are mistakenly diagnosed with depression because they do not consider the hypomania a part of the disorder.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, is a milder type of bipolar disorder. With this disorder, you will have both depression and hypomania on and off for several years but it will not get severe enough to affect your daily life. It is called cyclothymic disorder because you cycle through high and low emotions over and over again. This condition is rare and only affects less than one percent of the American population.

How You Can Tell if You Have Bipolar Disorder

Even though the signs of bipolar disorder can vary from person to person, there are some that are common in all patients. These symptoms include:

Mania

  • Not sleeping
  • Talking louder, faster, and more often than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Trying to do more than you can handle (overbooking yourself)
  • Extreme behaviors such as gambling, unprotected sex, spending money that you cannot afford
  • Drinking in excess or using illegal drugs
  • Rapid thoughts

Depression

  • Feeling sad, despondent, and helpless
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Chronic aches and pains
  • Anger or aggression
  • Crying bouts for no obvious reasons
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Memory lapses
  • Thoughts of suicide

Risk Factors

According to experts, bipolar disorders are genetic, but they can also be affected by environmental issues like constant and extreme stress, lack of sleep for long periods of time, addiction to alcohol or drugs, physical abnormalities in the brain, and/or chemical or hormonal imbalances.

Treatment

The treatment for bipolar disorder includes medications such as a tricyclic antidepressant, an atypical antidepressant, monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). In addition, those with bipolar disorder should talk to a therapist on a regular basis. This is important because some of the medications can become less effective over time and your therapist will be able to tell just by talking to you if you need to switch your dosage or medication. If you do not have a therapist to talk to or you are too busy to find the time to make an appointment, you can find a professional on BetterHelp.com. Just click here to talk to someone, with no appointment necessary.

 

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie-Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.