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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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Public welfare agenda or corporate research agenda?
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
March 2005, 3(1):41-80
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.27878  PMID:22679348
As things stand today, whether we like it or not, industry funding is on the upswing. The whole enterprise of medicine in booming, and it makes sense for industry to invest more and more of one's millions into it. The pharmaceutical industry has become the single largest direct funding agency of medical research in countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Since the goals of industry and academia differ, it seems that conflicts of interest are inevitable at times. The crucial decision is whether the public welfare agenda of academia, or the corporate research agenda of industry, should occupy center stage when they conflict. There is enough evidence to show that funding by industry is very systematic, and results that are supportive of the safety and efficacy of sponsor's products alone get the funds. It is no surprise, therefore, that one finds very few negative drug trials reports published, and whatever are, are likely to be by rival companies to serve their commercial interests. Renewed and continued funding by industry decides the future prospects of many academic researchers. At the same time there is now evidence that pharmaceutical companies attempt suppression of research findings, may be selective in publishing results, and may delay or stymie publication of unfavourable results. This is a major area of concern for all conscientious researchers and industry watchers. Industry commonly decides which clinical research/trial gets done, not academia, much though the latter may wish to believe otherwise. It finds willing researchers to carry this out. This can be one area of concern. Another area of pressing concern is when industry decides to both design and control publication of research. It makes sense for researchers to refuse to allow commercial interests to rule research reporting. Research having been reported, the commercial implications of such reporting is industry's concern. But, doctoring of findings to suit commerce is to be resisted at all costs. In this even pliant researchers need have no fear, for if they indeed publish what will work, the concerned sponsor will benefit in the long run. The only decision academia has to make is refuse to comply with predestined conclusions of sponsors for the 'thirty pieces of silver'. Instead do genuine research and make sixty for themselves. The useful rule of thumb is: Keep the critical antenna on, especially with regard to drug trials, and more especially their methodology, and study closely the conflict of interest disclosed, and if possible undisclosed, before you jump on the band wagon to herald the next great wonder drug. There are three important lessons to be learnt by academia in all academia-industry relationships: i) Lesson number one: incorporate the right to publish contrary findings in the research contract itself. Which means, it makes great sense for academia to concentrate on the language and contractual provisions of sponsored research, to read the fine print very closely, and protect their research interests in case of conflict. ii) Lesson number two: a number of lawsuits successfully brought up against industry recently reflect earnest attempts by patient welfare bodies and others to remedy the tilt. It will result in a newfound confidence in academia that augurs well for academia industry relationship in the long run. Hence the second lesson for academia: do not get browbeaten by threats of legal action iii) Lesson number three: Academia should keep itself involved right from inception of the clinical trial through to ultimate publication. And this must be an integral part of the written contract. The time to repeat cliches about the exciting future of the academia-industry connect is past. A concerted effort to lay a strong foundation of the relationship on practical ethical grounds has become mandatory.
  28,076 289 -
Notes on a Few Issues in the Philosophy of Psychiatry
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
January-December 2009, 7(1):128-183
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.40731  PMID:21836785
The first part called the Preamble tackles: (a) the issues of silence and speech, and life and disease; (b) whether we need to know some or all of the truth, and how are exact science and philosophical reason related; (c) the phenomenon of Why, How, and What; (d) how are mind and brain related; (e) what is robust eclecticism, empirical/scientific enquiry, replicability/refutability, and the role of diagnosis and medical model in psychiatry; (f) bioethics and the four principles of beneficence, non-malfeasance, autonomy, and justice; (g) the four concepts of disease, illness, sickness, and disorder; how confusion is confounded by these concepts but clarity is imperative if we want to make sense out of them; and how psychiatry is an interim medical discipline. The second part called The Issues deals with: (a) the concepts of nature and nurture; the biological and the psychosocial; and psychiatric disease and brain pathophysiology; (b) biology, Freud and the reinvention of psychiatry; (c) critics of psychiatry, mind-body problem and paradigm shifts in psychiatry; (d) the biological, the psychoanalytic, the psychosocial and the cognitive; (e) the issues of clarity, reductionism, and integration; (f) what are the fool-proof criteria, which are false leads, and what is the need for questioning assumptions in psychiatry. The third part is called Psychiatric Disorder, Psychiatric Ethics, and Psychiatry Connected Disciplines. It includes topics like (a) psychiatric disorder, mental health, and mental phenomena; (b) issues in psychiatric ethics; (c) social psychiatry, liaison psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, forensic psychiatry, and neuropsychiatry. The fourth part is called Antipsychiatry, Blunting Creativity, etc. It includes topics like (a) antipsychiatry revisited; (b) basic arguments of antipsychiatry, Szasz, etc.; (c) psychiatric classification and value judgment; (d) conformity, labeling, and blunting creativity. The fifth part is called The Role of Philosophy, Religion, and Spirituality in Psychiatry. It includes topics like (a) relevance of philosophy to psychiatry; (b) psychiatry, religion, spirituality, and culture; (c) ancient Indian concepts and contemporary psychiatry; (d) Indian holism and Western reductionism; (e) science, humanism, and the nomothetic-idiographic orientation. The last part, called Final Goal, talks of the need for a grand unified theory. The whole discussion is put in the form of refutable points.
  25,839 347 7
Diseases of Poverty and Lifestyle, Well-Being and Human Development
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
January-December 2008, 6(1):187-225
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.40567  PMID:22013359
The problems of the haves differ substantially from those of the have-nots. Individuals in developing societies have to fight mainly against infectious and communicable diseases, while in the developed world the battles are mainly against lifestyle diseases. Yet, at a very fundamental level, the problems are the same-the fight is against distress, disability, and premature death; against human exploitation and for human development and self-actualisation; against the callousness to critical concerns in regimes and scientific power centres. While there has been great progress in the treatment of individual diseases, human pathology continues to increase. Sicknesses are not decreasing in number, they are only changing in type. The primary diseases of poverty like TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS-and the often co-morbid and ubiquitous malnutrition-take their toll on helpless populations in developing countries. Poverty is not just income deprivation but capability deprivation and optimism deprivation as well. While life expectancy may have increased in the haves, and infant and maternal mortality reduced, these gains have not necessarily ensured that well-being results. There are ever-multiplying numbers of individuals whose well-being is compromised due to lifestyle diseases. These diseases are the result of faulty lifestyles and the consequent crippling stress. But it serves no one's purpose to understand them as such. So, the prescription pad continues to prevail over lifestyle-change counselling or research. The struggle to achieve well-being and positive health, to ensure longevity, to combat lifestyle stress and professional burnout, and to reduce psychosomatic ailments continues unabated, with hardly an end in sight. We thus realise that morbidity, disability, and death assail all three societies: the ones with infectious diseases, the ones with diseases of poverty, and the ones with lifestyle diseases. If it is bacteria in their various forms that are the culprit in infectious diseases, it is poverty/deprivation in its various manifestations that is the culprit in poverty-related diseases, and it is lifestyle stress in its various avatars that is the culprit in lifestyle diseases. It is as though poverty and lifestyle stress have become the modern "bacteria" of developing and developed societies, respectively. For those societies afflicted with diseases of poverty, of course, the prime concern is to escape from the deadly grip of poverty-disease-deprivation-helplessness; but, while so doing, they must be careful not to land in the lap of lifestyle diseases. For the haves, the need is to seek well-being, positive health, and inner rootedness; to ask science not only to give them new pills for new ills, but to define and study how negative emotions hamper health and how positive ones promote it; to find out what is inner peace, what is the connection between spirituality and health, what is well-being, what is self-actualisation, what prevents disease, what leads to longevity, how simplicity impacts health, what attitudes help cope with chronic sicknesses, how sicknesses can be reversed (not just treated), etc. Studies on well-being, longevity, and simplicity need the concerted attention of researchers. The task ahead is cut out for each one of us: physician, patient, caregiver, biomedical researcher, writer/journalist, science administrator, policy maker, ethicist, man of religion, practitioner of alternate/complementary medicine, citizen of a world community, etc. Each one must do his or her bit to ensure freedom from disease and achieve well-being. Those in the developed world have the means to make life meaningful but, often, have lost the meaning of life itself; those in the developing world are fighting for survival but, often, have recipes to make life meaningful. This is especially true of a society like India, which is rapidly emerging from its underdeveloped status. It is an ancient civilization, with a philosophical outlook based on a robust mix of the temporal and the spiritual, with vibrant indigenous biomedical and related disciplines, for example, Ayurveda, Yoga, etc. It also has a burgeoning corpus of modern biomedical knowledge in active conversation with the rest of the world. It should be especially careful that, while it does not negate the fruits of economic development and scientific/biomedical advance that seem to beckon it in this century, it does not also forget the values that have added meaning and purpose to life; values that the ancients bequeathed it, drawn from their experiential knowledge down the centuries. The means that the developed have could combine with the recipes to make them meaningful that the developing have. That is the challenge ahead for mankind as it gropes its way out of poverty, disease, despair, alienation, anomie, and the ubiquitous all-devouring lifestyle stresses, and takes halting steps towards well-being and the glory of human development.
  25,439 542 9
Gandhi on religion, faith and conversion-secular blueprint relevant today
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
January-October 2004, 2(1):79-88
Gandhi believed in judging people of other faiths from their stand point rather than his own. He welcomed contact of Hinduism with other religions, especially the Christian doctrines, for he did not want to be debarred from assimilating good anywhere else. He believed a respectful study of other's religion was a sacred duty and it did not reduce reverence for one's own. He was looking out for those universal principles which transcended religion as a dogma. He expected religion to take account of practical life, he wanted it to appeal to reason and not be in conflict with morality. He believed it was his right and duty to point out the defects of his own religion, but to desist from doing so with other's faith. He refused to abuse a man for his fanatical deeds for he tried to see them from the other person's point of view. He believed Jesus expressed the will and spirit of God but could not accept Jesus as the only incarnate son of God. If Jesus was like God or God himself, then all men were like God or God Himself. But neither could he accept the Vedas as the inspired word of God, for if they were inspired why not also the Bible and the Koran? He believed all great religions were fundamentally equal and that there should be innate respect for them, not just mutual tolerance. He felt a person wanting to convert should try to be a good follower of his own faith rather than seek goodness in change of faith. His early impressions of Christianity were unfortunate which underwent a change when he discovered the New Testament and the Sermon on the Mount, whose ideal of renunciation appealed to him greatly. He thought Parliament of Religions or International Fellowship of Religions could be based only on equality of status, a common platform. An attitude of patronising tolerance was false to the spirit of international fellowship. He believed that all religions were more or less true, but had errors because they came to us though imperfect human instrumentality. Religious symbols could not be made into a fetish to prove the superiority of one religion over another. In a multi-religious secular polity like that of India, Gandhi's ideas on religion and attitude toward other religions could serve as a secular blueprint to ponder over and implement.
  24,504 258 1
Positive Emotions, Spirituality and the Practice of Psychiatry
George E Vaillant
January-December 2008, 6(1):48-62
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.36504  PMID:22013350
This paper proposes that eight positive emotions: awe, love (attachment), trust (faith), compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, joy and hope constitute what we mean by spirituality. These emotions have been grossly ignored by psychiatry. The two sciences that I shall employ to demonstrate this definition of spirituality will be ethology and neuroscience. They are both very new. I will argue that spirituality is not about ideas, sacred texts and theology; rather, spirituality is all about emotion and social connection. Specific religions, for all their limitations, are often the portal through which positive emotions are brought into conscious attention. Neither Freud nor psychiatric textbooks ever mention emotions like joy and gratitude. Hymns and psalms give these emotions pride of place. Our whole concept of psychotherapy might change if clinicians set about enhancing positive emotions rather than focusing only on negative emotions.
  21,929 720 6
Neurobiology of Spirituality
E Mohandas
January-December 2008, 6(1):63-80
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.33001  PMID:22013351
Spiritual practices have been proposed to have many beneficial effects as far as mental health is concerned. The exact neural basis of these effects is slowly coming to light and different imaging techniques have elucidated the neural basis of meditative practices. The evidence though preliminary and based on studies replete with methodological constraints, points toward the involvement of the prefrontal and parietal cortices. The available data on meditation focus on activated frontal attentional network. Neuroimaging studies have shown that meditation results in an activation of the prefrontal cortex, activation of the thalamus and the inhibitory thalamic reticular nucleus and a resultant functional deafferentation of the parietal lobe. The neurochemical change as a result of meditative practices involves all the major neurotransmitter systems. The neurotransmitter changes contribute to the amelioration of anxiety and depressive symptomatology and in part explain the psychotogenic property of meditation. This overview highlights the involvement of multiple neural structures, the neurophysiological and neurochemical alterations observed in meditative practices.
  20,264 769 5
Psychological Aspects of Widowhood and Divorce
JK Trivedi, Himanshu Sareen, Mohan Dhyani
January-December 2009, 7(1):37-49
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.40648  PMID:21836778
Despite advances in standard of living of the population, the condition of widows and divorced women remains deplorable in society. The situation is worse in developing nations with their unique social, cultural and economic milieu, which at times ignores the basic human rights of this vulnerable section of society. A gap exists in life expectancies of men and women in both developing and developed nations. This, coupled with greater remarriage rates in men, ensures that the number of widows continues to exceed that of widowers. Moreover, with women becoming more educated, economically independent and aware of their rights, divorce rates are increasing along with associated psychological ramifications. The fact that widowed/divorced women suffer from varying psychological stressors is often ignored. It has been concluded in various studies that such stressors could be harbingers of psychiatric illnesses (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance dependence), and hence should be taken into account by treating physicians, social workers and others who come to the aid of such women. A change in mindset of the society is required before these women get their rightful place, for which a strong will is needed in the minds of the people, and in law-governing bodies.
  19,648 456 3
Humanity at the Crossroads: Does Sri Aurobindo offer an alternative?
Shakuntala A Singh, Ajai R Singh
January-December 2009, 7(1):110-127
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.38517  PMID:21836784
In the light of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, this paper looks into some of the problems of contemporary man as an individual, a member of society, a citizen of his country, a component of this world, and of nature itself. Concepts like Science; Nature,;Matter; Mental Being; Mana-purusa; Prana-purusa; Citta-purusa; Nation-ego and Nation-soul; True and False Subjectivism; World-state and World-union; Religion of Humanism are the focus of this paper. Nature: Beneath the diversity and uniqueness of the different elements in Nature there is an essential unity that not only allows for this diversity but even supports it. Nature is both a benefactor and a force: a benefactor, because it acts to carry out the evolution of mankind; a force, because it also supplies the necessary energy and momentum to achieve it. Natural calamities: If mankind can quieten the tsunamis and cyclones and droughts and earthquakes that rage within, and behave with care and compassion towards Nature, not exploiting, denuding, or denigrating it, there is a strong possibility that Nature too will behave with equal care and compassion towards man and spare him the natural calamities than rend him asunder. Science: The limitation of science become obvious, according to Sri Aurobindo, when we realize that it has mastered knowledge of processes and helped in the creation of machinery but is ignorant of the foundations of being and, therefore, cannot perfect our nature or our life. Science and philosophy: The insights of philosophy could become heuristic and algorithmic models for scientific experimentation. Matter: An interesting aspect of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy is his acceptance of the reality of matter even while highlighting its inadequacies; the ultimate goal, according to him, is the divination of matter itself. Purusa: If the mana-purusa (mental being) were to log on to the genuine citta-purusa (psychic formation), without necessarily logging off from the prana-purusa (frontal formation), it may help quieten the turbulences within, which may be a prelude to the quietening of the disturbances without, whether it be physical maladies, cravings (for food, fame, fortune, etc.), destructive competitiveness; or wars, terrorism, ethnic conflicts, communal riots, and the other such social maladies that afflict mankind today. Nation-ego (false subjectivism) and Nation-soul (true subjectivism): Sri Aurobindo considers Nation-ego an example of false subjectivism, in which national identity and pride are stressed to prove one's superiority and suppress or exploit the rest. The Nation-soul, as an example of true subjectivism, attempts to capture one's traditional heritage and values in its pristine form, not as a reaction to hurts and angers or as compensation for real or imagined injuries or indignities of the past. World-state (false subjectivism) and World-union (true subjectivism): Similarly, a World-state founded upon the principle of centralization and uniformity, a mechanical and formal unity, is an example of false subjectivism, while a World-union founded upon the principle of liberty and variation in a free and intelligent unity is an example of true subjectivism Human actualization: Even if two human beings are similar, in so far as they are human beings, there is so much diversity between them. Part of the movement towards human self-actualization lies in the fact that this diversity should not be forcibly curbed, as also the realization that beneath all that appears disparate there is an essential unity. Also, man is not the end product of evolution but an intermediate stage between the animal and the divine. Moreover, he is endowed with consciousness that enables him to cooperate with the forces of evolution and speed up and telescope the next stage of evolution.
  18,970 213 1
A journey into chaos: Creativity and the unconscious
Nancy C Andreasen
January-December 2011, 9(1):42-53
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77424  PMID:21694961
The capacity to be creative, to produce new concepts, ideas, inventions, objects or art, is perhaps the most important attribute of the human brain. We know very little, however, about the nature of creativity or its neural basis. Some important questions include how should we define creativity? How is it related (or unrelated) to high intelligence? What psychological processes or environmental circumstance cause creative insights to occur? How is it related to conscious and unconscious processes? What is happening at the neural level during moments of creativity? How is it related to health or illness, and especially mental illness? This paper will review introspective accounts from highly creative individuals. These accounts suggest that unconscious processes play an important role in achieving creative insights. Neuroimaging studies of the brain during "REST" (random episodic silent thought, also referred to as the default state) suggest that the association cortices are the primary areas that are active during this state and that the brain is spontaneously reorganising and acting as a self-organising system. Neuroimaging studies also suggest that highly creative individuals have more intense activity in association cortices when performing tasks that challenge them to "make associations." Studies of creative individuals also indicate that they have a higher rate of mental illness than a noncreative comparison group, as well as a higher rate of both creativity and mental illness in their first-degree relatives. This raises interesting questions about the relationship between the nature of the unconscious, the unconscious and the predisposition to both creativity and mental illness.
  18,148 300 5
Working Mothers: How Much Working, How Much Mothers, And Where Is The Womanhood?
Jayita Poduval, Murali Poduval
January-December 2009, 7(1):63-79
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.41799  PMID:21836780
Motherhood confers upon a woman the responsibility of raising a child. This process also changes the way in which she is perceived in society and at her workplace. It can necessitate her to take more than available leave options, and job security can be at risk. Significant social and personal adjustments are necessary to cope with such a situation. A working mother, especially one who has the good fortune to be able to balance her home and work, enjoys the stimulation that a job or career provides. She develops the ability of raising a useful member of society and at the same time gains financial independence. Along with motherhood, work adds to the completeness of being a woman.
  17,131 366 1
Medicine : Science or Art?
SC Panda
January-December 2006, 4(1):127-138
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.27610  PMID:22013337
Debate over the status of medicine as an Art or Science continues. The aim of this paper is to discuss the meaning of Art and Science in terms of medicine, and to find out to what extent they have their roots in the field of medical practice. What is analysed is whether medicine is an "art based on science"; or, the "art of medicine" has lost its sheen (what with the rapid advancements of science in course of time, which has made present day medicine more sophisticated). What is also analysed is whether the "science of medicine" is a pure one, or merely applied science; or the element of science in it is full of uncertainty, simply because what is accepted as "scientific" today is discarded by medical practitioners tomorrow in the light of newer evidence. The paper also briefly touches upon how, in the field of present medical education, the introduction of medical humanities or humanistic education has the potential to swing the pendulum of medicine more towards the lost "art of medicine". The paper concludes by saying that the art and science of medicine are complementary. For successful practice, a doctor has to be an artist armed with basic scientific knowledge in medicine.
  15,169 433 2
What does addiction mean to me
Morten Hesse
January-December 2006, 4(1):104-126
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.27609  PMID:22013336
Addiction is compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance. It is accepted as a mental illness in the diagnostic nomenclature and results in substantial health, social and economic problems. In the diagnostic nomenclature, addiction was originally included in the personality disorders along with other behaviours considered deviant. But it is now considered a clinical syndrome. Addiction is multifactorially determined, with substantial genetic influence. The development of addictions is also influenced by environmental factors, and an interplay between the two. In the clinical context, addiction puts problem substance use on the agenda, and helps focus on the difficulties associated with drug use. But the concept of addiction is also used to distance the user from addicts, and in this way, may be counter-therapeutic. The addiction concept has also had a substantial influence on policy. The almost universal prohibition against drugs such as opiates, cocaine, cannabis and amphetamine has much support. But unfortunately, it has not been able to hinder the development of substance use problems. Optimism is fostered by the development of respectful ways of thinking about people with addictions, in particular, from advocates of motivational interviewing.
  14,573 347 -
Brain-mind dyad, human experience, the consciousness tetrad and lattice of mental operations: And further, The need to integrate knowledge from diverse disciplines
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
January-December 2011, 9(1):6-41
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.77412  PMID:21694960
Brain, Mind and Consciousness are the research concerns of psychiatrists, psychologists, neurologists, cognitive neuroscientists and philosophers. All of them are working in different and important ways to understand the workings of the brain, the mysteries of the mind and to grasp that elusive concept called consciousness. Although they are all justified in forwarding their respective researches, it is also necessary to integrate these diverse appearing understandings and try and get a comprehensive perspective that is, hopefully, more than the sum of their parts. There is also the need to understand what each one is doing, and by the other, to understand each other's basic and fundamental ideological and foundational underpinnings. This must be followed by a comprehensive and critical dialogue between the respective disciplines. Moreover, the concept of mind and consciousness in Indian thought needs careful delineation and critical/evidential enquiry to make it internationally relevant. The brain-mind dyad must be understood, with brain as the structural correlate of the mind, and mind as the functional correlate of the brain. To understand human experience, we need a triad of external environment, internal environment and a consciousness that makes sense of both. We need to evolve a consensus on the definition of consciousness, for which a working definition in the form of a Consciousness Tetrad of Default, Aware, Operational and Evolved Consciousness is presented. It is equally necessary to understand the connection between physical changes in the brain and mental operations, and thereby untangle and comprehend the lattice of mental operations. Interdisciplinary work and knowledge sharing, in an atmosphere of healthy give and take of ideas, and with a view to understand the significance of each other's work, and also to critically evaluate the present corpus of knowledge from these diverse appearing fields, and then carry forward from there in a spirit of cooperative but evidential and critical enquiry - this is the goal for this monograph, and the work to follow.
  14,522 140 6
The connection between academia and industry
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
March 2005, 3(1):5-35
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.27876  PMID:22679346
The growing commercialization of research with its effect on the ethical conduct of researchers, and the advancement of scientific knowledge with its effect on the welfare or otherwise of patients, are areas of pressing concern today and need a serious, thorough study. Biomedical research, and its forward march, is becoming increasingly dependent on industry-academia proximity, both commercial and geographic. A realization of the commercial value of academic biomedical research coupled with its rapid and efficient utilization by industry is the major propelling force here. A number of well-intentioned writers in the field look to the whole development with optimism. But this partnership is a double-edged sword, for it carries with it the potential of an exciting future as much as the prospect of misappropriation and malevolence. Moreover, such partnerships have sometimes eroded public trust in the research enterprise itself. Connected to the growing clout of industry in institutions is concern about the commercialization of research and resolving the 'patient or product' loyalty. There is ambivalence about industry funding and influence in academia, and a consequent 'approach-avoidance' conflict. If academia has to provide the patients and research talent, industry necessarily has to provide the finances and other facilities based on it. This is an invariable and essential agreement between the two parties that they can walk out of only at their own peril. The profound ethical concerns that industry funded research has brought center-stage need a close look, especially as they impact patients, research subjects, public trust, marketability of products, and research and professional credibility. How can the intermediate goal of industry (patient welfare) serve the purpose of the final goal of academia is the basic struggle for conscientious research institutions /associations. And how best the goal of maximizing profits can be best served, albeit suitably camouflaged as patient welfare throughout, is the concern of the pharmaceutical industry. A very great potential conflict of interest lies in the fact that academia needs the sophisticated instruments that only big funding can provide, while at the same time resists the attempts of the fund provider to set the agenda of research, protocol, design, publication, the works. Conflicts arise at many steps and levels of functioning, and are related to the expectations, competing interests, and conflicting priorities of the different entities involved, whether they are the academic medical centers, the funding agencies, the patients and their families, or the investors and venture capitalists. The public expects access to new treatments. Its appetite for innovation has been bolstered by the constant attention given by the press to new treatments and by the implicit promise from researchers of continuing advances. Similarly, patients demand privacy and control over information about themselves. It makes greater sense for genuine researchers to associate with large long-term industry players who have a track record of genuine hard-core discoveries, even if the process is slow (maybe), and the funding less (may not be). The element of control venture capitalists exert over the pharmaceutical industry is an under researched area for obvious reasons. But it needs further probing, for that will lay bare the pulls and pressures under which industry works. It makes sense for ethically minded researchers and institutions not to fall in the trap of stocks and equity investments in industry, howsoever attractive they appear, and get rid of them as soon as possible if they have them. If at all they want, it makes more sense to own stocks of larger well established concerns, for the stock upheavals being less, the pressure of the market-place, and of venture sharks, is likely to be lower too. While active participation by the researcher in the commercialization process may be greatly desired by industry, ostensibly in the name of creating value, academia must realize it is a bait it might find hard to swallow in the long run. It makes more sense for the researcher and institution to forego such temptations and/or walk out of such investments as soon as possible. While mainstream medicine and research are booming, as is connected industry, concerns about professional commitment to patient welfare are growing too. Increasing corporate influence is challenging certain long held and fundamental values of patient care, which will have far reaching implications for biomedical care and the future progress of mainstream medicine.
  14,215 327 1
What is a good editorial?
Ajai Singh, Shakuntala Singh
January-December 2006, 4(1):14-17
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.27600  PMID:22013327
  13,758 285 1
The Noncompliant Patient in Psychiatry: The Case For and Against Covert/Surreptitious Medication
KS Latha
January-December 2010, 8(1):96-121
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.58822  PMID:21327173
Nonadherence to treatment continues to be one of psychiatry's greatest challenges. To improve adherence and thus improve the care of patients, clinicians and patients' family members sometimes resort to hiding medication in food or drink, a practice referred to as covert/ surreptitious medication. The practice of covert drug administration in food and beverages is well known in the treatment of psychiatrically ill world-wide but no prevalence rates exist. Covert medication may seem like a minor matter, but it touches on legal and ethical issues of a patient's competence, autonomy, and insight. Medicating patients without their knowledge is not justifiable solely as a shortcut for institutions or families wishing to calm a troublesome patient and thus alleviate some of the burdens of care giving. The paramount principle is ensuring the well-being of a patient who lacks the competence to give informed consent. Ethically, covert/surreptitious administration can be seen as a breach of trust by the doctor or by family members who administer the drugs. Covert medication contravenes contemporary ethical practice. Legally, treatment without consent is permissible only where common law or statute provides such authority. The practice of covert administration of medication is not specifically covered in the mental health legislation in developing countries. Many of the current dilemmas in this area have come to public attention because of two important developments in medical ethics and the law - the increasing importance accorded to respect for autonomy and loss of the parens patriae jurisdiction of the courts [parens patriae means 'parent of the country'; it permitted a court to consent or refuse treatment on behalf of an 'incapacity', or alternatively to appoint a guardian with such powers].
  12,917 209 9
Resolution of the polarisation of ideologies and approaches in psychiatry
Ajai Singh, Shakuntala Singh
November-December 2004, 2(2):5-32
The uniqueness of Psychiatry as a medical speciality lies in the fact that aside from tackling what it considers as illnesses, it has perchance to comment on and tackle many issues of social relevance as well. Whether this is advisable or not is another matter; but such a process is inevitable due to the inherent nature of the branch and the problems it deals with. Moreover this is at the root of the polarization of psychiatry into opposing psychosocial and biological schools. This gets reflected in their visualization of scope, in definitions and in methodology as well. Whilst healthy criticism of one against the other school is necessary, there should be caution against hasty application of one's frame of reference to an approach that does not intend to follow, or conform to, one's methodology. This should be done within the referential framework of the school critically evaluated, with due consideration for its methods and concepts. Similarly, as at present, there is no evidence to prove one or the other of these approaches as better, aside from personal choice. We can say so even if there is a strong paradigm shift towards the biological at present. A renaissance of scientific psychoanalysis coupled with a perceptive neurobiology which can translate those insights into testable hypotheses holds the greatest promise for psychiatry in the future. This suggests the need for unification of diverse appearing approaches to get a more comprehensive and enlightened worldview. It requires a highly integrative capacity. Just as a physicist thinks simultaneously in terms of particles and waves, a psychiatrist must think of motives, emotions and desires in the same breath as neurobiology, genetics and psychopharmacology. However, the integration must be attempted without destroying the internal cohesiveness of the individual schools. This will give a fair chance for polarization in which a single proper approach in psychiatry could emerge, which may be a conglomerate of diverse appearing approaches of today, or one which supersedes the rest. A synthesis of cognitive psychology and neuroscience offers the greatest promise at present.
  12,304 309 2
Dual Psychological Processes Underlying Public Stigma and the Implications for Reducing Stigma
Glenn D Reeder, John B Pryor
January-December 2008, 6(1):175-186
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.36546  PMID:22013358
People with serious illness or disability are often burdened with social stigma that promotes a cycle of poverty via unemployment, inadequate housing and threats to mental health. Stigma may be conceptualized in terms of self-stigma (e.g., shame and lowered self-esteem) or public stigma (e.g., the general public's prejudice towards the stigmatized). This article examines two psychological processes that underlie public stigma: associative processes and rule-based processes. Associative processes are quick and relatively automatic whereas rule-based processes take longer to manifest themselves and involve deliberate thinking. Associative and rule-based thinking require different assessment instruments, follow a different time course and lead to different effects (e.g., stigma-by-association vs attributional processing that results in blame). Of greatest importance is the fact that each process may require a different stigma-prevention strategy.
  11,977 384 11
Medicine as a corporate enterprise, patient welfare centered profession, or patient welfare centered professional enterprise?
Ajai R Singh, Shakuntala A Singh
November 2005, 3(2):19-51
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.27881  PMID:22679354
There is an alarming trend in the field of medicine, whose portents are ominous but do not seem to shake the complacency and merry making doing the rounds. The wants of the medical man have multiplied beyond imagination. The cost of organizing conferences is no longer possible on delegate fees. The bottom-line is: Crores for a Conference, Millions for a Mid-Term. However, the problem is that sponsors keep a discreet but careful tab on docs. All in all, costs of medicines escalate, and quality medical care becomes a luxury. The whole brunt of this movement is borne by the patient. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Schering-Plough, Abbott Labs, TAP Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth and Merck have paid millions of dollars each as compensation in the last few years. The financial condition of many pharmaceutical majors is not buoyant either. Price deflation, increased Rand D spending, and litigation costs are the main reasons. In the future, the messy lawsuits situation would no longer be restricted to industry. It would involve academia and practising doctors as well. Indian pharma industry captains, who were busy raking in the profits at present, would also come under the scanner. If nothing else, it means industry and docs will have to sit down and do some soul searching. Both short and long-term measures will have to be put into place. Short-term measures involve reduction in i) pharma spending over junkets and trinkets; ii) hype over 'me too' drugs; iii) manipulation of drug trials; iv) getting pliant researchers into drug trials; iv) manipulation of Journal Editors to publish positive findings about their drug trials and launches; v) and for Indian Pharma, to conduct their own unbiased clinical trial of the latest drug projected as a blockbuster in the West, before pumping in their millions. The long-term measures are related to the way biomedical advance is to be charted. We have to decide whether medicine is to become a corporate enterprise or remain a patient welfare centered profession. A third approach involves an eclectic resolution of the two. Such amount of patient welfare as also ensures profit, and such amount of profit as also ensures patient welfare is to be forwarded. For, profit, without patient welfare, is blind. And patient welfare, without profit, is lame. According to this approach, medicine becomes a patient welfare centered professional enterprise. The various ramifications of each of these approaches are discussed in this monograph.
  11,833 226 1
Values-Based Practice: A New Partner to Evidence-Based Practice and A First for Psychiatry?
K.W.M Fulford
January-December 2008, 6(1):10-21
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.40565  PMID:22013346
  11,057 565 5
What Psychoanalysis, Culture And Society Mean To Me
Lynne Layton
January-December 2007, 5(1):146-157
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.32159  PMID:22058628
The paper reviews some ways that the social and psychic have been understood in psychoanalysis and argues that a model for understanding the relation between the psychic and the social must account both for the ways that we internalize oppressive norms as well as the ways we resist them. The author proposes that we build our identities in relation to other identities circulating in our culture and that cultural hierarchies of sexism, racism, classism push us to split off part of what it means to be human, thereby creating painful individual and relational repetition compulsions. These "normative unconscious processes" replicate the unjust social norms that cause psychic pain in the first place. The paper concludes with thoughts about contemporary US culture, in which the government has abdicated responsibility toward its most vulnerable citizens and has thus rendered vulnerability and dependence shameful states.
  11,242 314 7
Are Jews Smarter Than Everyone Else?
Sander L Gilman
January-December 2008, 6(1):41-47
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.34526  PMID:22013349
The debate about "race" and "intelligence" seems to be never ending. The "special nature" of the intelligence ascribed to "Jews" has recently reappeared in an essay by one of the authors of the notorious study of race and intelligence - The Bell Curve . How this debate is constructed and what its implications are for the reappearance of "race" as a category in medical and biological science is at the core of this present essay.
  11,030 321 -
Covert Treatment in Psychiatry: Do No Harm, True, But Also Dare to Care
Ajai R Singh
January-December 2008, 6(1):81-109
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.40566  PMID:22013352
Covert treatment raises a number of ethical and practical issues in psychiatry. Viewpoints differ from the standpoint of psychiatrists, caregivers, ethicists, lawyers, neighbours, human rights activists and patients. There is little systematic research data on its use but it is quite certain that there is relatively widespread use. The veil of secrecy around the procedure is due to fear of professional censure. Whenever there is a veil of secrecy around anything, which is aided and abetted by vociferous opposition from some sections of society, the result is one of two: 1) either the activity goes underground or 2) it is reluctantly discarded, although most of those who used it earlier knew it was needed. Covert treatment has the dubious distinction of suffering both such secrecy and disapproval. Covert treatment has a number of advantages and disadvantages in psychotic disorders. The advantages are that it helps solve practical clinical problems; prevents delays in starting treatment, which is associated with clinical risks and substantial costs; prevents risk of self-destructive behaviour and/or physical assault by patient; prevents relapse; and prevents demoralization of staff. The disadvantages are that it maybe used with malafide intent by caregivers with or without the complicity of psychiatrists; it may be used to force conformity in dissenters; and the clinician may land himself in legal tangles even with its legitimate use. In addition, it may prevent insight, encourage denial, promote unhealthy practices in the treating staff and prevent understanding of why noncompliance occurs in the first place. Some support its use in dementia and learning disorders but oppose it in schizophrenia. The main reason is that uncooperative patients of schizophrenia (and related psychoses) are considered to be those who refuse treatment but retain capacity; while in dementia and severe learning disorder, uncooperative patients are those who lack capacity. This paper disputes this contention by arguing that although uncooperative patients of schizophrenia (and related psychoses) apparently retain capacity, it is limited, in fact distorted, since they lack insight. It presents the concept of insight-unconsciousness in a patient of psychosis. Just as an unconscious patient has to be given covert medical/surgical treatment, similarly an insight-unconscious patient with one of the different psychoses (in the acute phase or otherwise) may also have to be given covert treatment till he regains at least partial insight. It helps control psychotic symptoms and assists the patient in regaining enough insight to realize he needs treatment. Another argument against covert treatment is that people with schizophrenia have the capacity to learn and therefore can learn that they are required to take medications, but if medications are given covertly it may well fuel their paranoia. However, it should be noted that the patient who has lack of insight cannot learn unless he regains that insight, and he may need covert treatment to facilitate this process. Covert treatment can fuel the paranoia, true, but it can also control the psychotic symptoms sufficiently so that regular treatment can be initiated. In a patient who refuses to accept that he is sick and when involuntary commitment is not an option to be considered, covert treatment is the only option, apart from physical restraint. Ultimately, a choice has to be made between a larger beneficence (control of symptoms and start of therapy) and a smaller malevolence (necessary therapy, but without the patient's knowledge and consent). A number of practical clinical scenarios are outlined wherein the psychiatrist should adopt covert treatment in the best interests of the patient. Ethical issues of autonomy, power, secrecy and malafide intent arise; each of these can be countered only by non-malfeasance (above all, do no harm) under the overarch of beneficence (even above that, dare to care). An advance directive with health care proxy that sanctions covert treatment is presented. Questions raised by the practical clinical scenarios are then answered. The conclusions are as follows: covert treatment, i.e, temporary treatment without knowledge and consent, is seldom needed or justified. But, where needed, it remains an essential weapon in the psychiatrist's armamentarium: to be used cautiously but without guilt or fear of censure. However, the psychiatrist must use it very judiciously, in the rarest of rare cases, provided: i) he is firmly convinced that it is needed for the welfare of the patient; ii) it is the only option available to tide over a crisis; iii) continuing efforts are made to try and get the patient into regular psychiatric care; iv) the psychiatrist makes it clear that its use is only as a stop-gap; v) he is always alert to the chances of malevolence inherent in such a process and keeps away from conniving or associating with anything even remotely suspicious; and vi) he takes due precautions to ensure that he does not land into legal tangles later. The need of the hour is to explore in greater detail the need and justification for covert treatment, to lay out clear and firm parameters for its legitimate use, follow it up with standard literature and, finally, to establish clinical practice guidelines by unconflicted authors. The term "covert treatment" is preferable to "surreptitious prescribing"; they should not be used synonymously, the latter term being reserved for those cases where there is malafide intent.
  10,763 299 8
Towards an integrative theory of consciousness: Part 1 (Neurobiological and cognitive models)
Avinash De Sousa
January-December 2013, 11(1):100-150
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.109335  PMID:23678241
The study of consciousness is poised today at interesting crossroads. There has been a surge of research into various neurobiological underpinnings of consciousness in the past decade. The present article looks at the theories regarding this complex phenomenon, especially the ones that neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience and cognitive psychology have to offer. We will first discuss the origin and etymology of word consciousness and its usage. Neurobiological correlates of consciousness are discussed with structures like the ascending reticular activating system, the amygdala, the cerebellum, the thalamus, the frontoparietal circuits, the prefrontal cortex and the precuneus. The cellular and microlevel theories of consciousness and cerebral activity at the neuronal level contributing to consciousness are highlighted, along with the various theories posited in this area. The role of neuronal assemblies and circuits along with firing patterns and their ramifications for the understanding of consciousness are discussed. A section on the role of anaesthesia and its links to consciousness is presented, along with details of split-brain studies in consciousness and altered states of awareness, including the vegetative states. The article finally discusses the progress cognitive psychology has made in identifying and theorising various perspectives of consciousness, perceptual awareness and conscious processing. Both recent and past researches are highlighted. The importance and salient features of each theory are discussed along with the pitfalls, if present. A need for integration of various theories to understand consciousness from a holistic perspective is stressed, to enable one to reach a theory that explains the ultimate neurobiology of consciousness.
  10,773 233 5
Of Sophists and Spin-Doctors: Industry-Sponsored Ghostwriting and the Crisis of Academic Medicine
Leemon McHenry
January-December 2010, 8(1):129-145
DOI:10.4103/0973-1229.58824  PMID:21327175
Ghostwriting for medical journals has become a major, but largely invisible, factor contributing to the problem of credibility in academic medicine. In this paper I argue that the pharmaceutical marketing objectives and use of medical communication firms in the production of ghostwritten articles constitute a new form of sophistry. After identifying three distinct types of medical ghostwriting, I survey the known cases of ghostwriting in the literature and explain the harm done to academic medicine and to patients. Finally, I outline steps to address the problem and restore the integrity of the medical literature.
  10,354 209 9
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