Mind Manager: Non-Linear Thinking

November 23, 2008

MindManager: Linear Thinking takes you straight to the expected.”

Email about using mapping software to create linear procedures for engineering processes.

—– Original Message —–
From: Leslie
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2008 7:21 PM
Subject: mindthingy

This application is for hierarchies. The design process is linear-sequential. What you need is a simple checklist.

1. Draw preti pixchrs
2. add part nubmers
3. etc

Mind Manager: Linear Thinking takes you straight to the expected.

“Say hello to free-form thinking. Your brain doesn’t process in a linear fashion. Neither does Mindjet. Now you can think visually with dynamic layers of information displayed in a limitless arrangement that lends clarity to any project.”

Ontology software maps interrelationships between objects and concepts in a given domain in ways that aren’t intuitive to a linear-sequential mind. I’m not sure how Mind Manager will help write a procedure because procedures are by definition linear and sequential.

If you want to bring in resources like test equipment or people then a scheduling program like Microsoft Project Standard 2007 is more in order.

I was evaluating different mind mapping software at home. I set it up so that as I ran through my Saturday morning web work it would remind me of related tasks in case I wanted to work by tool or by priority instead of running through them in sequence. As the weeks went on I found I was adding children and siblings and dropping files and links onto it, but the license ran out and I was too cheap to buy it.

Mind mapping software is easier to use from the start of a project. If you input an existing data set and impose a well-thought-out rational structure on it, you’re totally missing the point. The creative process doesn’t have a rational structure. If it did, it would be called engineering. Oh *snap!*

There is a Mind Manager viewer so that users can only view the mind map. Mind Manager also can export to pdf, html, word, ppt, etc.

There are lots of available Mind Manager maps. No matter what you need to do with a mind map, you can probalby adapt an existing map to do what you want.

Don’t forget Microsoft Office templates. I think this one, “To do list for projects,” will work just fine for a test procedure.


Are Autistics really UberGeeks?

June 4, 2008

The person to research is Dr. Temple Grandin. She is autistic and has a PhD in Animal Husbandry. She is probably the number one designer of humane slaughterhouses due in part to the fact that she thinks in pictures rather than in words. I draw the line before “because she thinks like an animal.” The powers-that-be love to say that autistics are like animals, a statement that is always used to dehumanize and to justify abuse.

Dr. Grandin has made some startling statements about how autistic children are being mishandled in our schools. The powers-that-be think they know better than her. After all, she thinks like an animal. 😦

Dr. Grandin has written a number of excellent book on the topic of educating autistics, including one called “Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism.”

Genius May Be an Abnormality: Educating Students with Asperger’s Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism

Center for the Study of Autism – Temple Grandin

neurodiversity.com – Temple Grandin’s Hug Machine

THINKING IN PICTURES is Dr. Grandin’s autobiography and gives a great deal of insight into the mind of an autistic.

Geek Syndrome


March 5, 2007

The [tag]StressEraser[/tag] is a handheld [tag]biofeedback[/tag] unit. Unlike my favorite computer game, [tag]Journey to Wild Divine[/tag], The StressEraser is small enough that I can carry it around in the laptop bag that is too full of other [tag]gadgets[/tag] to hold my laptop.

The StressEraser has a simple, no-nonsense user interface. It is really easy to use. You put your finger in the sensor, hit the “on” button, and the unit starts graphing. Once it figures you out, it starts printing pointers near the end of each inhalation. All you do is synchronize your breathing to the pointers. It helps you breathe deeply and evenly, and this, my [tag]caffeine[/tag]-guzzling [tag]geek[/tag] friend, is [tag]relaxation[/tag].

How Stigma Works

November 12, 2006

Some of the folks on Pendulum and The Bipolar Planet may remember back in 1999/2000 when my employer gaslighted me. Things like writing me up for being unable to get to work during a flood. Refusing to provide reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that would have improved my productivity.

No, really, what I asked for was a little cubicle at one end of the very noisy computer lab to cut down some of the fan noise and block the visual stimulation of people wandering in and out of the room all day. And that instructions be sent via email instead of verbally, and that stated task priority be filtered through my supervisor to assist my then-lithium-impaired memory. And that I be allowed some leeway in the time I start my day because of a co-morbid, or perhaps drug-induced, sleep disorder. All told it may have cost about $1000 for a couple of cubicle walls. Not a hardship for them. Perhaps it would occasionally inconvenience an engineer who wanted some soldering done first thing in the morning, but in the main I worked alone in the lab – nothing but me and ten or so distractingly noisy desktops and servers.

One engineer gaslighted me a number of times – telling another department that I would do a task for them, but not bothering to actually ask me to do the task. Or giving me incorrect instructions that led to two or three days worth of worthless measurements. He would assign the task last thing before he took a couple of days off, so I couldn’t even ask for clarifications. You can guess how bad this made me look. The negative effect on my self-esteem was incalculable.

There were two other handicapped women working there – they got us really cheap, I suppose. This fellow engaged in the same sort of behavior with them. I thought it was rather odd that he often talked about his kid, but never about his wife. At some point I caught on – the gentleman was a truly wretched misogynist.

It got to me. I began to think that maybe it was me, not discrimination and stigma. Maybe I really was incompetent. Maybe the bipolar disorder was really progressing toward total disability. My self-esteem plummeted. I was about to quit my job when one of the other victims suggested that I go on disability for a bit to get my head back together. So I did.

When I came back, the company refused to give me internet access. That meant no searching for component datasheets, no on-line parts orders, no package tracking. I literally could not do my job without it.

It was the worst kind of nightmare, the kind that follows you home at the end of the day, the kind that intrudes into your dreams, the kind that wakes up with you in the morning, the kind that makes your entire world lose its color and taste.

Eventually, the Director of Human Resources called me into her office and forced me to accept a “mutually agreed-to separation.” The woman even told me that I’m not suited to work in the electronics industry.

I want to know one reason why it is good for society to prevent the mentally ill from working.

The victimized co-worker that I mentioned later helped me put together letters to HR, took me along when she went down to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to file a complaint, and took me to her lawyer. I wouldn’t have done these things on my own.

For the record, the EEOC gave me a “right to sue” document, but I had another episode and so was unable to follow through.

Since my self-esteem was so shot, I was unable to find another job. Instead I went back to school and finished up my BS in Engineering Science – with a minor in Mathematics.

It’s been on my mind because I have been cleaning out old files including all my records about my complaint with the EEOC. Folks, if someone discriminates, report them – after you are terminated, of course. Even if you don’t profit from it – and you probably won’t – it lays a groundwork for future employees who experience the same thing you did. Three different women called and asked for my EEOC case number within the next six months after I left.

Yesterday, just out of curiousity, I looked up the Director of HR on the ‘net. She now heads up a local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter. If that’s what NAMI is all about, teaching HR people how to use our illnesses against us at work, I will never give them another cent.


I went to a local meeting one time. It was frightening.

This fellow brought his college-age daughter and talked about her in the third person throughout the meeting. He kept his arm around her as if she might jump up and run away. As if she might open her mouth and express her own opinion. As if she were his property. No wonder she was sick.

Another couple complained why can’t the doctors medicate their son against his wishes. The son is crazy, he can’t make a rational decision! Well, their son’s wishes are not irrational just because they differ from the parents’. When there are drugs that really work and don’t have debilitating side effects, the seriously mentally ill may feel better about taking them.

The NAMI facilitator glanced at me and then carefully said, “Forced medication is against the law. It violates the patient’s rights.” I know damned well that if I weren’t there the conversation would have gone differently.

I can’t imagine being wrestled to the ground and forcibly injected with intoxicants. I can tell you this – if you tried to do that to me right now I’d fight you until I ran out of strength. Of course, you would then be able to say, “See, see, she’s irrational, she’s being violent.” This is so much more than an issue of the patient’s rights – it is a violation of their person on the order of rape.

My opinions and my wishes are not irrational just because they differ from my family’s – or from NAMI’s.

ECT, etc.

April 27, 2006

"A functioning [tag]police state[/tag] needs no police."
— [tag]William S. Burroughs[/tag]

"Shock Therapy" is that ugly dog collar and backpack combination that they use in some detention centers to control kids with behavior problems. Yes, read that to mean psychological problems. Don’t get me started on behaviorists. It is used as a behavior modification technique, often without the use of psych meds, to create an aversion to the undesirable behavior.

However, we are talking about [tag]ElectroConvulsive Therapy[/tag] – [tag]ECT[/tag].

ECT is a pretty drastic measure. They put you under general anesthesia then give your head a big jolt electricity – so big that it would induce convulsions if they didn’t knock you out and paralyze you first. It is one of the last remaining vestiges of a truly brutal era in [tag]psychiatry[/tag].

There are less extreme modalities available these days. [tag]Transcranial Magnetic Therapy[/tag] is one. See if you can find the IEEE Spectrum at your library. There was a really good article in the March 2006 IEEE Spectrum last month. High-tech devices have fewer side-effects and if used appropriately they are quite effective.

A well-meaning but completely ignorant individual recently tried to convince me that ECT works by activating the parts of the brain that aren’t working right when you’re depressed. If anything, ECT overloads and suppress areas that you *don’t* want to be active. Along with pretty much everything else between the [tag]electrodes[/tag].

But the fact of the matter is that the way they usually do ECT, they don’t target problem areas and they don’t target specific desirable pathways. They overload the entire brain and if you weren’t anesthetized and paralyzed you’d go into [tag]grand mal seizures[/tag]. In the old days, people who had ECT often broke teeth and bones during the procedure. Many patients suffer permanent memory loss and severe [tag]cognitive deficits[/tag] – not all, but many do. It remains to be seen whether the current (no pun intended) methods produce the kind of brain damage seen in in earlier days.

The point is, there are modern options that should be considered in many cases.

Before you go in for ECT, please ask yourself some questions. What non-medical options have you explored? You can’t settle down enough to do your usual stress-busting activities, you can’t still your mind enough to even begin meditating, you’re afraid to go outside and run around to let off steam? [tag]Biofeedback[/tag] isn’t even working any more, maybe because you’re outside of the normal operating parameters of the equipment available to you?

There is a series on PBS called "Second Opinion." In the Depression episode, they made ECT sound like a miracle cure for depression. The reporting was unbelievably one-sided. They didn’t cover any of the magnetic therapies so anyone using PBS for their information doesn’t have the whole story. Furthermore, they trivialized the side-effects of ECT by saying, in effect, that it’s far preferable to have a permanent cognitive deficit than to be depressed. It was a fun show, but it was dumbed down way too much to be useful in making an informed decision.

I see that one of the sponsors provided the folks who did the show only limited access to information on MedLine. It appears that they prescreened the data made available – that is, they only provided articles that supported their agenda. Remember that PBS shows often have corporate sponsors who may want, say, to convince the public that an old-fashioned and therefore less expensive modality is better.

[tag]CLIC-on-Health[/tag] provided [tag]Second Opinion[/tag] with our pre-determined search access to MedlinePlus.

ECT is somewhat of a black art. The doctors have no idea how or why it works. From Wikipedia:

The exact mechanisms by which ECT exerts its effect are not known, but studies show that repeated applications have effects on several kinds of [tag]neurotransmitters[/tag] in the central nervous system. ECT seems to sensitize two subtypes of [tag]serotonin[/tag] receptor (5-HT receptor), thereby strengthening signaling. ECT also decreases the functioning of [tag]norepinephrine[/tag] and [tag]dopamine[/tag] inhibiting auto-receptors in the [tag]locus coeruleus[/tag] and [tag]substantia nigra[/tag], respectively, causing more of each to be released.

The [tag]National Institutes of Mental Health[/tag] ([tag]NIMH[/tag])also say that the doctors don’t know how or why ECT works. Furthermore, it isn’t totally clear which patients ECT is likely to help the most, nor is there any way of telling in advance if a particular patient is likely to have an adverse experience.

Much additional research is needed into the basic mechanisms by which ECT exerts its therapeutic effects. Studies are also needed to better identify subgroups for whom the treatment is particularly beneficial or toxic and to refine techniques to maximize efficacy and minimize side effects. A national survey should be conducted on the manner and extent of ECT use in the United States.

In fact, one conclusion of that article is that ECT is in use only because it’s been in use for so long.

ECT has been underinvestigated in the past. Among the most important immediate research tasks are:

  • Better understanding of negative, positive, and indifferent responses should result in improved treatment practices.
  • Identification of the biological mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effects of ECT and the memory deficits resulting from the treatment.
  • Better delineation of the long-term effects of ECT on the course of affective illnesses and cognitive functions, including clarification of the duration of ECT’s therapeutic effectiveness.

  • Precise determination of the mode of [tag]electrode placement[/tag] (unilateral versus bilateral) and the stimulus parameters (form and intensity) that maximize efficacy and minimize cognitive impairment.
  • Identification of patient subgroups or types for whom ECT is particularly beneficial or toxic.

The [tag]World Health Organization[/tag] ([tag]WHO[/tag]) reiterates the statement that little is known about how ECT works on depression and that little is known about the after-effects of the treatment. In fact, they suggest that the therapeutic effects of ECT may be a result of the anesthesia or even of the nursing care and not to the actual electric shock at all.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes used to treat severe depressives who do not respond to drug treatment. A recent review and meta-analysis concluded that ECT is probably more effective than [tag]drug therapy[/tag], though the underlying mechanism is not known. The authors state that "any differences between ECT and drug therapy might not be attributable to the stimulus or shock alone, but could be due to other components of the ECT procedures (including anaesthetic and nursing care)" (100). Only one trial included in the meta-analysis provided data on cognitive functioning: patients treated with ECT had more [tag]word recognition errors[/tag] after treatment compared to patients treated with simulated ECT. At six months this difference was no longer observable. The authors require more evidence for the efficacy of ECT in the subgroups of patients who are presently most likely to receive it: those with [tag]treatment-resistant depression[/tag] and older patients.

Now for [tag]adverse effects[/tag]:

In one recent study of almost 25,000 treatments, a complication rate of 1 per 1,300 to 1,400 treatments was found. These included laryngospasm, circulatory insufficiency, tooth damage, vertebral compression fractures, status epilepticus, peripheral nerve palsy, skin burns, and prolonged apnea.

During the few minutes following the stimulus, profound and potentially dangerous systemic changes occur. First, there may be transient hypotension from bradycardia caused by [tag]central vagal stimulation[/tag]. This may be followed by sinus tachycardia and also sympathetic hyperactivity that leads to a rise in blood pressure, a response that may be more severe in patients with essential hypertension. Intracranial pressure increases during the seizure. Additionally, [tag]cardiac arrhythmias[/tag] during this time are not uncommon (but usually subside without sequelae).

Also, the NIMH makes it very clear that ECT is only effective for a very limited group of illnesses.

The consideration of ECT is most appropriate in those conditions for which efficacy has been established: Delusional and severe endogenous depressions, [tag]acute mania[/tag], and certain schizophrenic syndromes. ECT should rarely be considered for other psychiatric conditions.

The law requires that a patient give [tag]informed consent[/tag]. In order to give informed consent, the patient should be told about the risk of [tag]cognitive deficits[/tag] and [tag]memory loss[/tag], particularly since there is a tendency to misrepresent ECT as a "quick fix" to get the patient back to work sooner. Some patients can never go back to work after ECT.

The NIMH is recommending that doctors get [tag]patient consent[/tag] before each treatment in the series, not just for the series as a whole. That way the patient can assess the damage being done and refuse further treatments if necessary. The NIMH assumes that there is a statistically significant risk that a patient who is cognitively impaired by the procedure, even if the damage is only temporary, will not be capable of initiating a request to stop.

This recommendation sounds chillingly like the advice being given to prevent non-consensual sex. I won’t go so far as to call ECT "[tag]brain rape[/tag]," but only because that particular phrase has already been used by the writer William S. Burroughs in "[tag]Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry[/tag]" to describe a [tag]prefrontal lobotomy[/tag]. (ed2k link to William S. Burroughs – “Call Me Burroughs” – requires winrar to unarchive.)

That being said, if your doctor insists upon you having ECT, you don’t have much of a choice, do you?

UPDATE 4/15/2007:
[tag]Sylvia Caras[/tag] of [tag]People Who[/tag] accepted this post for inclusion on her own site. Stop over to People Who and check out the tremendous amount of excellent [tag]mental health advocacy[/tag] information she offers.

Journey to Wild Divine

February 20, 2006

Updated 3/6
Journey to Wild Divine is a biofeedback program disguised as a computer game. In the game you use your autonomic responses/breathing/emotion to perform tasks such as levitating a ball, spinning a lotus-like mandala, and other tasks that I haven’t reached yet. It’s something like a graphical version of the old adventure games, but with a New Age appeal. I hear that you get to play chess against the Grim Reaper on Level 7.
The biofeedback unit plugs into the USB port, and consists of a “[tag]light stone[/tag]” control unit with three finger sensors that measure heart rate and skin resistance. The optional graphing expansion pack lets you view your EKG. Quite fascinating, really.
I had a world of trouble installing the software because of a bad install CD. It took me several tries and some trickery. However, the good folks at Wild Divine sent me out a replacement CD right away.

Deleted technical description of installing from a warped CD.

Once I got things working, playing the game was like being in one of those dreams where I’m sure that I can fly, if only I can allow it to happen. The feeling was absolutely delightful. I’m looking forward to setting aside time to start playing the full game.


On wanting to be stable

February 10, 2006

I’m having a bit of trouble making non-technical things fit into my brain today.
I can understand wanting to be stable. No, not really, stable people are bloody boring. What I can understand is wanting to be able to do the things I want to do without having to cancel because of a bad day. A bad day
meaning I can’t concentrate, or I am indecisive, or I am tired or maybe on the flip side the normies are just moving/thinking/being like dinosaurs.
Let’s define stability sometime, ok? I think stability means that I don’t fall so far afield that I can’t meet my obligations. What do you think?
But are those really bad days? If we didn’t have it beaten into our heads that having moods swings and being creative makes us BAD PEOPLE, we wouldn’t think twice about making time for our own needs. Maybe on the indecisive days I should shelve books by LOC number, while I should make use of the high days time flipping through books trying to synthesize new meanings.
Why do the doctors want to label us and stigmatize us and force us to behave like everyone else? And why do we buy into this abuse? Oh, right, because being forced to be someone you aren’t is painful. When someone talks about “hope” in the context of having a mental illness, what exactly does that mean? There’s no cure for this short of identifying the bipolar gene and ABORTING us. If we are going to hope, let’s hope that someday society will stop wanting to punish anyone who is a little different.