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Old 01-01-2009, 02:02 PM   #91
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Are you being serious? I've never heard of that being a characteristic problem of vegetarians in particular


it's something former vegetarians have mentioned to me.
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Old 01-01-2009, 02:13 PM   #92
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Huh. Well, my guess would be that in their case, it's either due to shortages of iron or B12 (from an unabalanced diet heavy on dairy and refined starches, or a vegan diet without B12 supplementation), or else plain old inadequate calories (sometimes people become vegetarian at the same time they're trying to lose weight and go overboard on the latter front, then a few months later the hair loss consequences appear).
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Old 01-01-2009, 07:28 PM   #93
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A_W, you can try all you want to push me into an extremist corner, and although I don't post often to know me better, I don't support extremist views on any topic.

Google scholar? Seriously?? Well that settles it then. You win! Yay!

Others who find traditional medicine, doctors and preventions haven't helped (and migraine is often one of these mysterious ailments) often turn to alternative therapies and find their solutions.

You're thoroughly entitled to think it's bullshit.

I'm sure those who are living easier lives due to the placebo effect of a conspiratal 'marketing ploy' couldn't care less.
Google scholar restricts results to journal articles, it is perfectly legitimate to use it. If we are going to play with regular websites heres a wikipedia article
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A 2005 literature review found that the available information about dietary trigger factors relies mostly on the subjective assessments of patients. Some suspected dietary trigger factors appear to genuinely promote or precipitate migraine episodes, but many other suspected dietary triggers have never been demonstrated to trigger migraines. The review authors found that alcohol, caffeine withdrawal, and missing meals are the most important dietary migraine precipitants, that dehydration deserved more attention, and that some patients report sensitivity to red wine. Little or no evidence associated notorious suspected triggers like chocolate, cheese, histamine, tyramine, nitrates, or nitrites with migraines. Some people may develop migraines from consuming aspartame. In a University of Parkinson's-Florida study, the incidence of migraine doubled for the majority of participants when they took aspartame, and their headaches lasted longer and were marked by increased signs of shakiness and diminished vision. Headaches are the most common side effect cited by those who consume aspartame-containing products. In a large and definitive study monosodium glutamate (MSG) in large doses (2.5 grams) was associated with adverse symptoms including headache more often than was placebo. The review authors also note that while general dietary restriction has not been demonstrated to be an effective migraine therapy, it is beneficial for the individual to avoid what has been a definite cause of the migraine.
Migraine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It can't be confidently asserted that veaganism staves off migraine headaches, I don't think we should be treating "alternative medicine" as equally valuable - if it had any effect it would fall into the realm of evidence-based.

This is important because a lot of people part with a lot of money to charlatans because they can't distinguish between relatively innocuous and good advice (eat more vegetables and cut back on read meat) and bad advice (my homeopath tells me to take this big fat placebo).
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:10 PM   #94
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It can't be confidently asserted that veaganism staves off migraine headaches, I don't think we should be treating "alternative medicine" as equally valuable - if it had any effect it would fall into the realm of evidence-based.
Not sure where you're seeing those assertions? Treating health issues is not an all or nothing contest between traditional and alternative.

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a lot of people part with a lot of money to charlatans because they can't distinguish between relatively innocuous and good advice (eat more vegetables and cut back on read meat) and bad advice (my homeopath tells me to take this big fat placebo).
Agreed. It's also cannot be overlooked that many people suffer needlessly and part with a lot of money on big pharma big fat pills because they cannot question and explore beyond a white lab coat telling them all alternative medicine is a sham (when plenty of people have wisely saved considerable amounts of money treating their issues with alternatives).
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:13 PM   #95
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Are you being serious? I've never heard of that being a characteristic problem of vegetarians in particular, but I do know that if you're undernourished (shortages of iron, B12 or folic acid, or more generally just inadequate caloric intake) then that can definitely cause noticeable hair loss. I wasn't a vegetarian, but I experienced this myself in college when due to a combination of too much stress (working fulltime plus a full class load) and frankly not being able to afford enough to eat, I not only lost quite a bit of weight but also huge amounts of hair, to the point of having some bald spots. I think what basically causes this is that the body, in an attempt to conserve energy, shifts a much larger number of hair follicles than usual into the dormant phase, so heavy shedding kicks in and much of it isn't immediately replaced. (Something similar usually happens to the nails around the same time.) This effect usually plateaus after several months though, even if your diet or stress levels are still pretty bad, and eventually your hair returns to normal thickness. If it doesn't, then probably something more serious is wrong.
Yeah, malnutrition in general (not just vegetarianism) causes hair loss. I went through the same thing when I was 18. Living off of Easy Mac, McDonald's cheeseburgers, and gummy bears led to me losing a bunch of weight, and some hair. There was probably a good deal of stress involved too.

But vegetarians can live perfectly healthy, provided they take care to get the right nutrients.
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:48 PM   #96
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Not sure where you're seeing those assertions? Treating health issues is not an all or nothing contest between traditional and alternative.

Agreed. It's also cannot be overlooked that many people suffer needlessly and part with a lot of money on big pharma big fat pills because they cannot question and explore beyond a white lab coat telling them all alternative medicine is a sham (when plenty of people have wisely saved considerable amounts of money treating their issues with alternatives).
Your mentality really comes across as wishy-washy and relativistic; as if both scientific and alternative are equally valid paths, that they compliment each other. That on the one hand we have the closed minded science which doesn't accept new ideas and is a tool of industry, and on the other there are well meaning alternative providers who offer genuine relief to patients that goes a little bit beyond corporate medicine.

It is the alternative medicine providers who dress up in lab coats and leech of the public trust of doctors and scientists to sell their products who are the villains of the piece. People rally against pharmaceutical companies all the time, but do they take a principled stance when their in a hospital bed? There is a lot to criticise about the impacts of capitalism on medicine, but there is a justified level of state regulation with new drugs which doesn't exist for "alternative medicine". We may have some confidence in the effect, that isn't true for alternative medicine.

I feel that there is enough pseudo-science and lies in the alternative medicine community for me to be sceptical; homeopathy and naturopathy are examples of fashionable nonsense which a lot of the public accepts as helpful, in spite an utter lack of supporting evidence; it makes a lot of money for providers and does nothing for patients, for all their faults at least pharmaceutical companies deliver products which work.

Some alternative treatments may have some efficacy beyond the placebo effect (which also works when you tell people they are taking a placebo); but they have to be clinically tested, with rigorous methodology, to know if they work. There is definitely a spectrum of harm with alternative medicine from harmless water (homeopathy) to outright dangerous (psychic surgery); I strongly feel that treating pseudo-science as an equally valid approach to health encourages a negative mirror of scepticism (people have a distrust of corporate medicine while believing in qi and "energy").

You may say (?) that whatever helps people get through their sickness is alright, that a little extra false consolation is better than none at all, but I really have a problem with alternative medicine (which has a traceable history of quackery) being granted legitimacy without producing evidence that their products work; it exploits a gullible public and celebrates ignorance, people ought to take more care for their health and learn what any substance will be doing to their bodies before making choices. The rise of alternative medicine over the last few decades is a sad indictment of societies regressing to a state of willful ignorance.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:58 PM   #97
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people ought to take more care for their health and learn what any substance will be doing to their bodies before making choices
Absolutely...starting with the food they eat and what has gone into producing it.


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The rise of alternative medicine over the last few decades is a sad indictment of societies regressing to a state of willful ignorance.
I would attribute it more to the lack of quality medical care from an overburdened system and high cost of conventional medicines. You can throw in society's evolving mistrust in the legitimacy of conventional institutions across the board for good measure but it's really not that relevant.

I share your concern about people who get fleeced by witch doctors preying on their desperation. However, I am equally concerned for willfully ignorant people who solely entrust their health concerns with their primary care doctor without doing their own research, asking plenty of questions and challenging conventional norms.

If this position makes me wishy washy in your view, whatever. Blending conventional and alternative approaches with healthy skepticism has made me and many others healthier with more money in the bank.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:55 PM   #98
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What alternative medicines which you use have been validated through repeated clinical trials?

Taking alternative medicines and claiming healthy scepticism is oxymoronic, and in the immortal words of Dr. House "it might not even be oxy-".

You seem to claim that challenging convention is inherently a good thing, but that isn't scepticism, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, a good sceptic will think critically about claims but weigh them against evidence. A good example is homeopathy, the recent round of claims involved the assertion that water has memory, even though the dilutions ensure that none of the original substance (which is usually not a treatment in the first place) remains in the solution the memory of the original molecules in the water was supposed to be a mechanism of action. This is an extraordinary claim - it would overturn our understanding of physics and could lead to profound insights into the world, any scientist who proved that water had memory and overturned received wisdom about the fundamental laws of physics by producing the evidence would become an intellectual champion. A study was produced in the late 1980's which proposed that this was taking place, it generated a lot of interest and buzz because it seemed to validate the claims of homeopaths, but lots of subsequent studies have failed to find any effect, and the observer effect was discovered when one of the original researchers produced positive results at a higher frequency than others.

The water memory claim was made on the basis of original research, it was published in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal, it experienced heated debate within the scientific community, both for and against, and more studies were done to see if it could or couldn't work, ultimately it has been dismissed because the later experiments couldn't detect any effect other than experimenter bias.

Before you jump to the conclusion that science is closed minded remember the capacity of science to adapt new ideas, new working models, when new theories can explain evidence. Charles Darwin produced mountains of evidence to support evolution, overturning the scientific theories of the day, plate tectonics was rejected at the turn of the century because it lacked evidence - only to be adopted in the 1960's when scientists discovered the mid-ocean ridges where the earths crust is being pulled apart, Einstein revolutionised our understanding of gravity and his model was validated by real-world observations made during the 1919 solar eclipse when Eddington recorded that the light from distant stars was bent by the suns gravitational pull. Science is a process of knowledge accumulation which, when practiced with a spirit of free inquiry and curiosity, will continuously overturn received wisdom when better ideas come to light. It might not always work, but it is generally self-correcting; bad science doesn't stand the test of time, eventually its models will loose explanatory power, and overturned by more effective ones.

I am more than happy to acknowledge that modern medicine has gaps in knowledge there are effective courses of treatment which aren't explored as much as they should be for legal and ethical reasons (for example hallucinogenic drugs as treatments for anxiety disorders), but if an alternative treatment has no significant effects it is a waste of valuable time and money.

You assert that a fusion of alternative and "traditional" (which infers old, perhaps out of touch) medicine works for a lot of people, I am saying that they would be just as well if they dumped the alternative and made lifestyle decisions on the basis of evidence which has experienced the scrutiny of a wide range of experts. If I want to make choices about my diet I am going to start from a position of ignorance, I try to overcome my biases and not let conclusions follow assumptions - veganism starts from the premise that not using animal products is ethical (a perfectly legitimate moral argument), but vegans then justify their position by saying that it is the healthiest diet when the evidence simply isn't there.

Another instance is that I don't really know how tobacco causes cancer, I have a vague idea that it causes mutations in my DNA which result in unrestricted cell growth, but I don't know why Tobacco does this, it is a natural herb and it has been used as a remedy in Native American societies for thousands of years. I understand that a lot of doctors think it causes cancer, and has associations with heart disease and impotence, but why should I trust them? They often work for the same pharmaceutical companies which sell nicotine patches, which make a lot of money. What persuades me is that large scale studies show statistically significant associations between smoking and diseases, and that experts backed by lobbies on both sides have spent decades trying to disprove the other side, and that at this point the evidence pretty much conclusively shows smoking is harmful for health, which is why doctors say smoking is bad.

I don't blindly accept that smoking is bad because a doctor tells me so, I make a judgement on the basis of the degree of scrutiny which the issue has been explored in, why most doctors will tell me that smoking is bad, and why I should factor that into a cost-benefit decision about smoking. Same goes for global warming (I am a sceptic, in that I think that global warming is happening and that humans have had a big impact, I don't just believe it as faith, I think that it is an empirical question which has supporting evidence).

As far as being a toady of corporate interests and being brainwashed to support science because i've been indoctrinated at university heres something to the contrary. I have serious reservations about anti-depressant medications, I'm not ignorant of black moods or the chemical imbalance model of depression, but my understanding is that their mechanism of action isn't well pinned down, they impact the brains regulation of dopamine and serotonin and often alleviate depression, but they can cause negative effects, and I feel that they are over-prescribed. I think there is a much more complicated physiochemical phenomena that goes into depression, and there is a material reason that cognitive behavioral therapy is at least as effective as medication from slight to moderate depression, but our knowledge of the brain, emotions and consciousness is too lacking to understand exactly why.

At the same time I have a close family member who suffers from sever bipolar disorder and I can recognise the life-saving benefits which these drugs (and electroshock therapy) deliver. The drugs work, but I think that we should take a cost-benefit approach to drug use and explore other validated treatments like cognitive behaviour therapy, diet, and exercise for people who are functional and not at risk of suicide. Those alternatives are recommended as lifestyle changes by doctors because they show a statistically significant effect, unlike homeopathy and most other alternative medicine; alternative medicine isn't an area of new research, it is a dustbin of treatments which have failed the rigours of evidence-based medicine, I validate that assertion with the lack of efficacy in clinical trials of most alternative medicines (and we aren't even talking about crystal healing nonsense yet).

You assert that you, and many other people, are living healthier lives and spending less money because they use alternative medicine to compliment scientific medicine. I say that is an empirical question which can be tested scientifically; you have thrown it out there to support your case, I don't think it is a justified assertion. We disagree, but we can find out if either (or neither) of us is right.

We would need to take thousands of people for the study

Survey them on their healthcare choices

Control for lifestyle and environmental factors such as: fitness, diet, comorbidity, income, intelligence, pollution exposure, job type, age, pre-existing conditions etc.

Find out if there is any significant difference in health between similar groups of people who use either exclusively use scientific medicine, exclusively use alternative medicine, or use a fusion of each. Identify if these differences result from the type of treatment options or other lifestyle factors (e.g. vegetarians have lower incidences of lung cancer because they are less likely to smoke, not because they eat more fresh fruit).

My hypothesis is that as a group, people who use alternative medicine are more likely to be young, eat healthier diets than the general population, and exercise more. This predicts that that if we looked at non-smoking, balanced diet eating, 20 - 40 year olds who exercise regularly and split them up into the three groups then there would be no significant differences in morbidity between scientific medicine and scientific + alternative medicine groups, with the possibility that the exclusively alternative medicine would have slightly higher rates of illness because their treatment isn't significantly effective.

Your hypothesis is that alternative medicine delivers positive benefits, it would predict that among the fit young group the scientific medicine group should have slightly higher rates of sickness than the scientific + alternative groups. Given that you assert alternative medicine delivers outcomes it also means the exclusively alternative should have lower sickness rates than a control group.

The question about costs is important, you are claiming that alternative treatment saves money for individuals. This claim is terrific, we pay through the teeth for medicine, and at the level of governments billions of dollars get poured into healthcare, if we can cut the cost of delivering healthcare and improve peoples quality of life it is definitely something I would support. I might even support delivering placebos to the public through state sponsored clinics if there was a clear cost-benefit at play, although that is an ethical minefield and a separate topic.

Just sticking to costs your hypothesis is that scientific + alternative is cheaper than exclusively scientific.

We have to be careful about our groups, I'm a young man and I don't get sick very often, when I do I don't go to the doctor or spend much money; I don't take any supplements and the last time I had a checkup I was pretty healthy. If I was to buy supplements or homeopathic remedies when I got sick I would be spending more money than what I currently do.

To test the economics you would have to take your three subsections, control for income, health, frequency of disease, age etc. and then see if there is a significant difference between scientific, scientific + alternative, and alternative.

You think that scientific + alternative delivers cheaper outcomes, based on the fact alternative users either get sicker less frequently - or that they use less expensive medicine and remain fit.

I assert that scientific + alternative is more expensive, because broadly speaking the alternative medicine lacks efficacy. People will be spending money on therapies and treatments which don't have any impact, they will speciously reason that their alternative medicine is why they feel well, and when they inevitably do get sick they will spend money on scientific medicine too.

My hypothesis is rooted in the previous studies which don't show alternative treatments effect the frequency of illness for large groups of people, I think that yours is rooted in anecdotal evidence and an appeal to emotion. But it is an empirical question and if I was wrong then you have proposed a great answer to public health costs.

I think that dollar for dollar the scientific medicine does the heavy lifting of making people better when they are sick, and that alternative medicine is utterly unnecessary and drains peoples wallets without any real benefit than a kind practitioner.

That is the type of study which you have to either do, or cite, before you can throw out your assertion that alternative medicine is a valid option, to compliment scientific medicine.

And I will try to say that while I may seem closed minded, I would genuinely support investigating alternative medicine which showed repeated positive results in a clinical study. Factual information matters, it must be the basis of important decisions about our health, appreciate that I'm not attacking you personally, only your terrible argument that alternative medicine deserves validation despite its failure to stand up to rigorous investigation. And to any detractors who think that I am biased in theological matters, reflect on why I would write a post like this on "alternative medicine" and think about common elements between the two subjects.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:24 AM   #99
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First, let me thank you from moving me from mild annoyance at you loading my views with assumptions based on your own bias to overtly amused that in broadbrushing everything I've said and pontificating a conventional agenda (again, based on your own bias), you haven't digested anything I've said.

Pun intended.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:28 AM   #100
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And surprisingly enough these types of studies have been done
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Prevalence and cost of alternative medicine in Australia. Lancet. 1996 Mar 2;347(9001):569-73.

MacLennan AH, Wilson DH, Taylor AW.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia.

BACKGROUND: To determine the prevalence and cost of alternative medicines and alternative practitioner use in an Australian population. METHODS: We conducted a representative population survey of persons aged 15 or older living in South Australia, which required 3004 personal interviews. We assessed the rates of use and types of alternative medicine and therapists used by this population in 1993, and correlations with other demographic and medical variables. FINDINGS: The overall use of at least one non-medically prescribed alternative medicine (excluding calcium, iron and prescribed vitamins) was 48.5%. The users were more likely to be perimenopausal females, better educated, have a higher alcohol intake, be of normal weight and more likely to be employed than non-users. 20.3% of respondents had visited at least one alternative practitioner, most commonly chiropractors (15%). The users of alternative practitioners were more likely to be younger, live in the country and be overweight. Women were more likely to consult naturopaths, iridiologists, and reflexologists than men. INTERPRETATION: Extrapolation of the costs to the Australian population gives a natural expenditure in 1993, for alternative medicines, of $621 million (Australian dollars) and for alternative therapists of $AU309 million per annum. This compares to the $AU360 million of patient contributions for all classes of pharmaceutical drugs purchased in Australia in 1992/93. The public health and economic ramifications of these huge costs are questioned in view of the paucity of sound safety and efficacy data for many of the therapies and products of the alternative medicine industry.
A more recent follow-up study
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The escalating cost and prevalence of alternative medicine. Prev Med. 2002 Aug;35(2):166-73.

MacLennan AH, Wilson DH, Taylor AW.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Adelaide University, Women's and Children's Hospital, North Adelaide, South Australia, 5000, Australia. alastair.maclennan@adelaide.edu.au
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to measure trends in the prevalence and cost of alternative medicines and alternative practitioner use in an Australian population and to obtain a profile of users and their beliefs. METHODS: In 2000, we repeated a 1993 representative population survey of persons ages 15 years or older living in South Australia, which provided 3,027 personal interviews. We assessed the rates of use, types of alternative medicine and therapists, costs, and beliefs of users and nonusers. Comparisons in usage patterns with the 1993 survey were also made. FINDINGS: In 2000, the overall use of at least one nonmedically prescribed alternative medicine (excluding calcium, iron, and prescribed vitamins) was 52.1% (CI +/- 1.8). Users were more likely to be female, be better educated, have a higher income, and be employed. Since 1993, females were using significantly more herbal medicines, ginseng, Chinese medicines, and aromatherapy oils. Many were self-prescribed. Among users, 57.2% (CI +/- 1.2) did not tell their doctor. In 2000, 23.3% of respondents had visited at least one alternative practitioner with increasing use of acupuncturists, reflexologists, aromatherapists, and herbal therapists. Most thought alternative medicines were safe but thought they were, or should be, subject to the same standards as prescribed medicines. Among respondents, 92.9% wished product information to be of standard and content similar to those supplied with pharmaceuticals. INTERPRETATION: Extrapolation of the costs to the Australian population gives an expenditure on alternative therapies in 2000 of $AUD2.3 billion and for the U.S. population an annual expenditure of $US34 billion. In Australia this represents a 120 and 62% increase in the cost of alternative medicines and therapists, respectively, since 1993. In 2000 expenditure on alternative therapies was nearly four times the public contribution to all pharmaceuticals. The public appears to have ambivalent standards for alternative therapies but wishes to be empowered with accurate information to facilitate self-prescription. The public health ramifications of an expanding alternative medicine industry are great.
Vast amounts of money are being spent on this industry, which is rife with quackery and huckters, the public and many practitioners may have an honest belief in the alternative treatments but that doesn't make it effective and doesn't validate it.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:31 AM   #101
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At the same time I have a close family member who suffers from sever bipolar disorder and I can recognise the life-saving benefits which these drugs (and electroshock therapy) deliver. The drugs work, but I think that we should take a cost-benefit approach to drug use and explore other validated treatments like cognitive behaviour therapy, diet, and exercise for people who are functional and not at risk of suicide.
This has always been my concern.

I have written here on FYM several times about an aunt of mine who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in her early college years. I commented when certain posters here would refer to mental illness as a "disease" in quotation marks and other such nonsense.

Throughout the three decades that she lived as a paranoid schizophrenic, she was extremely volatile and violent. She also had a tendency to disappear for years, sometimes even up to a decade at a time. For example, in the early 1990s she was deported from Morocco. She spent a lot of time in northern Africa, converted to Islam and relied on the community-style living for food and basic survival.

When she was on medication, she was still severely mentally ill, but she was also able to live in a small apartment in the community, celebrate the holidays with her family, and could see her young nieces and nephews (while supervised) without their parents worrying about their children's physical well being. In addition to her meds, she needed psychiatric oversight, as there are no easy solutions. But her situation was as alright as it could be.

However, she did not like to be on medication. It stifled her "dramatic output" and dulled her artistic senses. She also believed that the right combination of piety and homeopathy/naturopathy was better for her than the host of anti-psychotics which had shown themselves to be remarkably effective when she was on them, and when she ensured that she stayed on the regimen for at least 2 months - that's how long it seemed to take her to stabilize.

Because she elected to be off her meds for probably 60-70% of her life, she attempted suicide unsuccessfully on three separate occasions. One involved jumping off the roof of a third or fourth story building, I can't remember. That's where she'd be forcibly medicated for a period of time, eventually released into the community, and cycle off her meds again, preferring a non-chemical course of "treatment."

Four days ago, she died in Spain, apparently the fourth time is the charm. I hope that in death she found the peace that she never had in life.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:32 AM   #102
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First, let me thank you from moving me from mild annoyance at you loading my views with assumptions based on your own bias to overtly amused that in broadbrushing everything I've said and pontificating a conventional agenda (again, based on your own bias), you haven't digested anything I've said.

Pun intended.
You can softly mock my "conventional bias" as much as you like, it has the benefit of being justifiable and honestly critical of received wisdom.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:39 AM   #103
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Four days ago, she died in Spain, apparently the fourth time is the charm. I hope that in death she found the peace that she never had in life.
And more importantly peace for those she left behind, I've wondered if its harder to have someone close continually drag those around them through the wreckage of suicide attempts or for them to just finish themselves off and leave regular grief, it's a frighteningly ambiguous question.
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Old 01-02-2009, 12:45 AM   #104
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It is true.

Her brother remarked that he was ashamed to say that he felt relief that at least now he knew where she was and that no harm could come to her.
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Old 01-02-2009, 01:05 AM   #105
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Four days ago, she died in Spain, apparently the fourth time is the charm. I hope that in death she found the peace that she never had in life.
She sounds remarkably similar to my mother's aunt's daughter. She lived a tortured life and when she died several years ago, as sad her mother was, she was also relieved her (the daughter's) pain was over.

My condolences to your family.
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