Monday Miscellany: Master Switch, Methadone, Motivational Interviewing

1. What does having a non-normative body mean for recovery from eating disorders? What do we know about it?

For example, when I talk about weight stigma, I might be taken seriously in part because of my body size. I am privileged to be able to speak about these issues without being labeled an “angry fatty.” At the same time, my body is generally read as “recovered,” allowing me to talk about eating disorders without anyone suggesting that I am still struggling, even if they know my history.

Despite evidence that body size is not the same as health ], and evidence that stigmatizing larger bodies does little (read: has the opposite to intended effect) to combat health issues people still use bodies as currency. The double binds I mentioned above still exist and continue to constrain our ability to understand people who occupy non-normative bodies as having legitimately suffered from eating disorders, let alone being able to recover.

2. Happy birthday to methadone: the history of the heroin treatment.

In some ways, these rapid shifts tell the story of methadone maintenance: both the government and the treatment community swing back and forth between recognizing its value and shunning it as just another form of drug use. It’s time, however, to finally come to terms with methadone. We need it as part of any strategy to cope with our national drug problem.

We are in the midst of another drug surge. After decades of domination by the stimulants—cocaine and, more recently, methamphetamine—hard-drug use has swung back to the opiates, both heroin and prescription pain relievers, such as Vicodin, Percocet, and, especially, OxyContin. “An urgent—and growing—public health crisis,” is how Attorney General Eric Holder described it last March. The potential good news is that once again we can manage our opiate problem with methadone and a newer, related drug, Suboxone.

By “manage,” I mean reduce the damage to both addicts and society. When on substitution therapy, studies have consistently shown, patients use less heroin, commit fewer crimes, and reduce their odds of contracting infections such as hepatitis C and HIV compared with those not taking methadone.

3. Years ago there was a famous study in which some nursing home residents were given plants. Some were given the responsibility of caring for the plants themselves, and some were told that staff would take care of them. What Langer was actually trying to test was the health effect of having control over one’s environment and perception of personal choice. It was the sort of study that’s cited repeatedly–along the lines of the Stanford Prison Experiment and Milgram’s obedience tests—because the mortality rate of the residents without control of plant care were significantly higher. Now, James Coyne investigates, and finds more nuance.

4. Motivational interviewing is a therapy strategy that involves asking questions to let the client explore their feelings and beliefs related to readiness for change. This video is an excellent demonstration of a number of the techniques. In particular, I like the idea of meeting the client at exactly where they are. They say their drinking has zero adverse side effects? Ask them if they can help you understand why their family is so concerned; what prompted them to force him into therapy?

5. Poetry: apple butter poems and fairy tale women.

6. Fine academic writing that does not make me nervous at all about careful methodology in the social sciences. nope. not at all.


Things I read this week:

Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson
Shocking everyone, this is a biography of Steve Jobs. Very long, very complete, but I kept wondering why everyone tolerated what seemed like horrific behavior from Jobs.

The Master Switch, Tim Wu
One of the best books I’ve read this month. Who controls communications industries? How does this impact information and speech? How did we get here? What should we be doing about it? Why isn’t everyone reading and discussing this book? Heavy on information and historical background, light on agenda-pushing.

Adulting, Kelly Williams Brown
A lot of things I would not have thought of about asking, (what is renters insurance? why should you sear your meat before you put it in soup?) plus unusually good social skills advice

4 thoughts on “Monday Miscellany: Master Switch, Methadone, Motivational Interviewing

  1. Hi! First-time commenter here (learned of your blog through Slate Star Codex). Just wanted to say thanks for the book reviews #2 and #3 (I read #1 and found the chapters on Pixar and Toy Story the most interesting). Also it might amuse you to know that some part of my brain keeps thinking Hermione Granger is writing this blog because of the blog initials G-and-H (years in potter fandom will do that to you).

    1. Hello!

      I will tell you that I was super delighted by this confusion, and maaaaaayyy have been called Hermione Granger when I was in middle school. This might have had to do with the significant quantity of bushy hair I had.

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