Longer Looks: Psychology Of Gun Control; Saying Goodbye; Questioning ADHD

Every week reporter Ankita Rao selects interesting reading from around the Web.

The New York Times: A Decade Of Goodbye
These weeks after the passing of my husband, Stuart, I often think of Joan Didion and her book "The Year of Magical Thinking," and about how her beloved husband, John Gregory Dunne, died suddenly of cardiac arrest while sitting in his living room.  During Stuart's illness, I considered Ms. Didion fortunate to be spared a long goodbye. How much more difficult it is when one suffers a decade of caregiving — the dash to hospitals, the languishing in emergency rooms, the years of chemo and radiation. A path that leads only to degradation as a 175-pound man, who scaled mountains and joyously ran marathons, one day transmogrifies into a 118-pound skeleton, with a failing liver and kidneys. For the last decade death has been hovering, but now it scratches at our door (Joan Marans Dim, 9/18).

The Atlantic: Why Mental Health Background Checks Are Not The Solution To Gun Violence
How was he allowed to buy a gun? It's the question people are asking after learning that Aaron Alexis, the shooter in the Washington Navy Yard massacre Monday, had been involved in at least two prior shooting incidents and as recently as August sought the assistance of police in Rhode Island because he was hearing voices. … This is the great problem at the heart of efforts to turn improved mental health reporting into our primary form of gun control. More than half of Americans experience one or more mental illnesses over the course of their lives, and around 26 percent of Americans over age 18 each year experience at least one, primarily anxiety disorders and mood disorders like depression (Garance Franke-Ruta, 9/19).

Salon: Psychiatry And Mental Illness: Has Science Gone Too Far?
The long-awaited update to the American Psychiatric Association’s "bible" for mental disorders, the DSM-5, was officially released in May. But the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has taken the official stance that the DSM is "no longer sufficient for researchers." What does this mean for the future of psychiatry — for researchers, clinicians and consumers of mental health services? Psychiatry, in its current iteration, emphasizes the clinician's judgment call for diagnosis. Such judgment calls are currently based on the DSM. But with newer technologies and increasingly sophisticated genetic research, psychiatry could become more about biology — although, as researchers are now discovering, some disorders could be easier to find biological bases for than others (Esme Weijun Wang, 9/18).

The New York Times: Complex Science At Issue In Politics Of Fetal Pain
It is a new frontier of the anti-abortion movement: laws banning abortion at 20 weeks after conception, contending that fetuses can feel pain then.  Since 2010, a dozen states have enacted them, most recently Texas. Nationally, a bill passed the Republican-dominated House of Representatives in June.  The science of fetal pain is highly complex. Most scientists who have expressed views on the issue have said they believe that if fetuses can feel pain, the neurological wiring is not in place until later, after the time when nearly all abortions occur (Pam Belluck, 9/16).

The Atlantic: ADHD, Or Childhood Narcissism
In a typical American classroom, there are nearly as many diagnosable cases of ADHD as there are of the common cold. In 2008, researchers from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University found that almost 10 percent of children use cold remedies at any given time. The latest statistics out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that the same proportion has ADHD. The rising number of ADHD cases over the past four decades is staggering. In the 1970s, a mere one percent of kids were considered ADHD. By the 1980s, three to five percent was the presumed rate, with steady increases into the 1990s (Enrico Gnaulati, 9/17).

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