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I know. I know. I’ll get to the title and the article in a minute, not trying really for any theatrics here, but I can’t believe it has been a year since my last posting. What happened? Well, first there was this pile of articles on sleep apnea, acupuncture, medical marijuana amongst others that I just never seemed to be able to get to in a timely fashion. Then there was this photoblog that was infintely more enjoyable and way easier. My subscription to the Wall Street Journal expired (no joking) on top of it all, and then there was just life.

Don’t they say– good things happen to those that wait, LOL?

Well, I finally restarted my subscription to my biggest article source, the WSJ a couple of weeks ago. In it was The Plight of the Pregnant Man. It wa very interesting to read that “pregnancy symtoms” in men whose mate or partner or wife or whatever PC lingo one uses today — nausea, fatigue, food cravings, odor aversions, mood swings, weight gain –are actually caused by a rise in the level of the hormone Prolactin in the man! Prolactin is responsible for many of the physical changes women experience during pregancy, especially breast enlargement and weight gain. In men, it is also responsible for a lowering of the testosterone level, and a lesser interest in sex.

It is interesting to note that psychologists in the 1800’s came up with the term “couvade” for male pregnancy symptoms (french for “to incubate” or “to brood”, like a mother bird) and Freudians attributed couvade to “fetus envy”, but this has been around since antiquity. Oh where would Woody Allen be without all of that?

It turns out, that males with pregnant partners that experience pregnancy symptoms have been shown to have an elevated prolactin level, and the higher the prolactin, usually the more in sync they are with the expectant mother and the more “maternal” they are after the birth. Higher levels also cause more symptoms, of course.

It wasn’t quite clear how or why certain men got elevated prolactin levels and perhaps others no elevation. But, the take-away message for me is how many other “psychological” conditions are really chemically based, but we have yet to figure out how to assess or measure it? Psychodynamic psychotherapy has no place here, except to be supportive of the symptoms and only tends to pathologize something apparently biological or even evolutionary.

PS – I gained 15 pounds when my ex-wife was pregnant the first time!!!

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So in trying to join the new millennium, I decided to give this blog a go many months ago. Alas, my schedule did not allow for much time to consider this enterprise other than saying, “Sure! How hard could it be?” Fast forward almost a year later and well, here it is. This is meant simply to be a place to put observations about life and work in the psychiatric field, mixed in with comments about interesting articles I have stumbled on. It’s a way to laugh at life, and not take oneself so seriously. And, it’s food for thought. Mine and/or yours. I am sure it will evolve, as everything seems to do.

I get most of my medical information these days from The Wall Street Journal. A lot of interesting and relevant sort of stuff. Tuesday, November 17, 2009, Personal Journal had 2 “opposite end of the spectrum” entries. The first, “When Mr. Clean Meets Ms. Messy” is a laugh, sobering though it is, about the nature of relationships, and the passive-aggressive stances some people get into when centered around clutter and cleanliness. Talk about being unable to change a person! Not to mention the feeling of helplessness about a partner that is mis-matched on the other end of the messiness spectrum. Although it may give additional work to my colleagues, it seems more to be a ticking time bomb. It is hard to imagine living like that.

The other, “A Key to Unlocking Memories” is more scientific in nature about the effects of music on memory. Listening to oldies, sing-alongs with old standards that everyone seems to know often, can help a person’s memory, even Alzheimer’s patients that have trouble remembering their spouses. Think back to the craze of Mozart music before taking tests, and you may remember (if you recently listened to music) that IQ scores are raised as well test performances. The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function is trying to get playlists for Alzheimer’s patients identified so relatives can download them onto ipods and play them for “therapy”. Music also has a tremendous effect on mood and has been claimed to “soothe the savage beast”. Take my job away? I dunno. We all can point to certain songs that evoke powerful memories or strong feelings. It’s something to think about—this complicated and engmatic brain of ours. No wonder so many people sing in the shower, or in the car!