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ramblings of an unknown psychiatrist

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Archive for the ‘science’ Category

How to be a good scientist: The advice of Santiago Ramon y Cajal

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on June 16, 2011

“Science is most impaired by certain diseases of the will, which are as follows: contemplators or dilletantes, erudites or bibliophiles, organophiles, megalophiles, decentered ones, and theorizers.

1. Contemplators are people who are essentially aesthetic. They care about getting pleasure from their work, not for the reality of things.

2. Bibliophiles are those who don’t understand that erudition only matters if it is background and preparation for great personal effort.

3. Megalophiles wish to rise, from the first combat, from soldier to general. They work hard but their ambition is too large. They look for the miracle that will give them their dream. They pass through life planning and drawing, constructing and reconstructing, and in the end, their many followers are embarrassed by the continued silence of the great man. Their great error is to ignore the best tactic which is also common sense: start with small problems first, so that perhaps later, if success smiles upon us and our powers gather strength, we can reach the great miracles of research. Perhaps we won’t reach glory, but at least with this approach we’ll obtain the esteem of the learned.

4. Organophiles – This variety is immediately recognized by a species of a fetishistic cult of the instruments of observation. They are fascinated by the shine of metal like the light shining of a mirror. They worship their technology and gadgets, like idols; their laboratories are new, clean, business like. These maestros chose the wrong vocation: they would have made excellent housewives.

5. The decentered ones – An English colleague from Cambridge once told me that their success grew from everyone knowing their place. In Spain it’s the reverse: no one knows their place. And wherever they happen to be, they stay there, not because they have something to offer, but to keep someone more competent away. These people hardly work, only doing the minimum necessary to keep their position, and this in bad faith. These are abulic people, failing to have enough energy to change their career.

6. Theorizers – When faced with a difficult problem, they have the irresistible temptation, not of interrogating nature, but of formulating a theory. The method is legitimate in principle, but they abuse it….At root, they are lazy pretending to be diligent; they obey the law of minimal effort, because it is much easier to construct a theory than to discover a phenomenon. …Here the reader might accuse me of inconsistency. We have to distinguish between working hypotheses and scientific theories. The hypothesis is the repetitive interrogation of nature; it is part of the investigative process, its initial phase, an almost always necessary antecedent. But continuous speculation, that is, theorizing for theorizing, without recourse to the objective analysis of phenomena, is to lose oneself to inconsistent idealism, is to turn one’s back on reality.”

-Translated and modified by Nassir Ghaemi,Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and Director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center.

(May be the title should have been how not to be a bad scientist 🙂 )


Posted in education, science | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Hell’s View on Mind, Mentally Ill and Mental Illness: Satan writes to Screwtape

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on August 31, 2010


The Screwtape Letters is a Christian apologetics novel written in epistolary style by C. S. Lewis, first published in book form in February 1942. The story takes the form of a series of letters from a senior demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, a junior tempter named Wormwood, so as to advise him on methods of securing the damnation of a British man, known only as “the Patient”.

One must know this background to understand the following post. The following is a letter written to Screwtape by the father below Satan himself. It addresses issues of the mental illness and mind.


Depths of Hell

21st Century. Year of the Enemy

Dear Screwtape,

I bring greetings from the depths of our eternal home. I have heard of your progress from your junior aid Wormwood. He gave me the news that you have been active in trying to understand and use the interface of spiritual and mental realms for our purpose.

I must warn you of the dire consequences of making yourself too obvious. Our success lies in our subtlety. You know it clearly that the ones who are obsessed with us and the ones who do not even believe in our existence are not our threat. In fact they are safe in our hands. I use the word safe only for sarcasm. You know the truth that they are actually unsafe in our hands 🙂

Many of our Enemy’s children are slowly coming into our camp. They are quite obsessed with us. Many of them do not even realize it. They know us. They can drive us out of our subjects with the authority of the Enemy. What is good for us is that they see us in everything. What our Enemy intended for them is to know Him more deeply. We can keep them preoccupied with us and distract them from Him. We can make them hate us more, thus filling their heart with more hatred. This distracts them from showing love for their brothers through their actions.

I see you have done a good job in the area of mental ill-health. Of course, I cannot credit you with making people mentally ill. I know some of this is beyond our capacity. We can only hurt those subjects as much as we are allowed by the enemy. You have quite nicely convinced many that mental illness is caused by us. It is a great lie. I love it. It is useful in quite a number of ways.

One, it keeps people in search of a magical-spiritual cure, which we can use for drawing them closer to us by involving them in rituals that are not pleasing to Him. Secondly, this preoccupation helps them keep away from medical attention. This makes the subject live in a psychotic state, away from reality. This makes him lose contact with the world that the enemy has created and makes them live in a world of lies. Remember our job is to steal, kill and destroy. We steal, kill and destroy the time of our subjects through this.

When we encounter any illness, we can use it for our purpose. We can use mental illness, even more. Our weapon of lies is very powerful. You are using it well. People fear mentally ill. They think that mentally ill subjects are violent and dangerous. Those of them who fear us also think we are causing these patients to do their behaviors. What a joke! We can laugh at this even in hell! The subjects who seem to be walking around normally and living their life successfully could probably be much more in our control. In fact they could be much more dangerous than subjects with mental illness.

We must realize that every bad thing that happens to His children is a good thing-gone wrong. For example when a man works hard in his business, he is doing what our enemy intended him to do i.e. to provide for his family and share with others. This good can be made to be bad when he works hard to make more and more money to the point of neglecting his family. It can be made to be bad in another way, when he earns for his family only and does not give out to anybody else. I am sure you have been using these distraction tactics to deviate our Enemy’s children.

Basically evil is qualitatively only slightly different from what is good. It is at times quantitatively only a changed proportion. Now why do I say this, we cannot take credit for the evil in the world too. We have not created it from anything. Evil is only the deviation from what our enemy meant in this world. We love it though.

If a person takes cocaine, he will get a high. Cocaine works in his brain and alters the chemicals in different areas. If a person takes Diazepam, he will get sleep, as Diazepam acts on certain areas in the brain which induce sleep. Did you or I create these substances? No! Can you or I control that effect? No! It is bound to happen in a world created by our enemy. In fact all of the day to day functions are regulated by chemicals in the body.

Our enemy has created certain chemicals, when present in right quantities make subjects happy. If these are not present in right quantities or if their proportions deviate then the subject loses his happiness and become depressed. If this is severe he may become suicidal and may even end his life. We love imbalance. We want his subjects to die if they are depressed. We can rejoice in death of a human subject, but we do not earn points. What extra have we done? It may be more like a person with cardiac failure dying with a cardiac arrest. Would I give you any points for it? Absolutely not!

These guys with mental illness lose capacity. Even the earthly Courts of Law give them some immunity by considering them not criminally responsible if they were to do a murder under specific circumstances. Our Enemy loves them much more. How much more he would be gracious towards these mentally ill on the day of judgment!  These people might get away with much of what they do due to their illness. Remember to not take credit for what bad happens to them and do not feel happy when they do something bad.

Mind is a good playground for us to demonstrate our skills. You and I cannot know exactly what our subjects are thinking in their mind, but we can input thoughts in their mind. I am not speaking of the thought insertion seen in what the humans call Schizophrenia or the intrusive thoughts seen in what they call Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. These phenomena as I said earlier are not out doing. If I hear of you take any credit for this kind of phenomena seen in your assigned subjects, you would be demoted in the hierarchy of Hell.

What you would be given credit for is, when you can instill a normal human with automatic negative thoughts. By this you trigger a volley of negative thoughts. These affect the subject’s mood making him anxious, angry, bitter or depressed. I agree that this is more pronounced when he is mentally ill. You would get no points for that. You would score if you use this on normal people, happy people, loving people, and obedient people and successfully make them lose contact with what our enemy intended them to keep in touch with, by painting a darker picture of reality even if it lasts for a short while. I would be happy if you could do this long enough to make thought patterns freeze. They should ultimately submit and react to thoughts that arise in the minds without questioning it rationally. This would ensure the subject’s drift away from the Enemy.

By the way I liked your letters to Wormwood. I have asked new recruits and slow learners to read the letters to improve their performance. Wishing you all the very best in accomplishing our task.

Hail Me!

Your Father below,


Posted in christian, depression, fiction, humour, OCD, philosophy, psychiatry, religion, schizophrenia, science, spiritual, stigma | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

“Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”

Posted by Dheeraj Kattula on May 22, 2009


If you cannot stand a bit of statistics/maths or dry humor please stop here. If you do not mind that then, please read the disclaimer.


The following research is purely fiction. The quotes are original. The author of the post believes there is some ‘truth’ in these quotes.


Benjamin Disraeli, the British politician said There are three kinds of lies: DisraeliLies, Damned Lies and Statistics.

It is interesting to know how one comes to such a conclusion. First collect data. Without data you cannot conclude any thing. Here you collect all statements which are ‘lies’. Lies- being defined as that which does not correspond to truth. Truth- being defined as that which corresponds to reality. ‘Lies’ are categories. Also define a continuous variable called ‘distance from truth’. So each lie is distant from truth by some degree.

A huge sample of ‘lies’ is collected. And the distance from truth is noted for each lie. The frequency distribution at each distance is seen.

Hey! You do not get a normal curve (with a single peak at the mean) in this as you get for most distributions. This is a trimodal curve. There are three peaks!!!

On analysis it was found that the ones with low distance from truth were uttered mostly by common people in the sample. These are Disraeli’s ‘lies’. The ones whose distance from truth was farther were mainly politicians. Their utterances were the ‘Damned Lies’.

The ones who were farthest from the truth were researchers, scientists and officials whose lies were officially ‘statistics’.

This is not to say that the scientific community has always got it wrong. It is just to remind ourselves that we have to be humble in science. We could be the ones farthest from truth if we ‘seek’ to find our pet conclusions. Let us remember the Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase’s adage “ If we torture data long enough, it will confess.

Posted in philosophy, science, statistics | 2 Comments »