Tag Archives: Depression

A closer look at gender-reassignment surgery and psychological disorders

Lets take a closer look at a puzzle
Lets take a closer look at a puzzle

This article on The Public Discourse by Walt Heyer (H/T Katy), a form transgender woman, was tweeted to me multiple times, so I have to write something about it. It talks about the research on transgender people and the outcomes of gender-reassignment surgery.

Here is the part I thought captures the theme of the article:

Studies show that the majority of transgender people have other co-occurring, or comorbid, psychological disorders.

A 2014 study found 62.7% of patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria had at least one co-occurring disorder, and 33% were found to have major depressive disorders, which are linked to suicide ideation. Another 2014 study of four European countries found that almost 70% of participants showed one or more Axis I disorders, mainly affective (mood) disorders and anxiety.

In 2007, the Department of Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, committed to a clinical review of the comorbid disorders of the last 10 patients interviewed at their Gender Identity Clinic. They found that “90% of these diverse patients had at least one other significant form of psychopathology . . . [including] problems of mood and anxiety regulation and adapting in the world. Two of the 10 have had persistent significant regrets about their previous transitions.”

Yet in the name of “civil rights,” laws are being passed at all levels of government to prevent transgender patients from receiving therapies to diagnose and treat co-occurring mental disorders.

The authors of the Case Western Reserve University study seemed to see this legal wave coming when they said:

This finding seems to be in marked contrast to the public, forensic, and professional rhetoric of many who care for transgendered adults . . . Emphasis on civil rights is not a substitute for the recognition and treatment of associated psychopathology. Gender identity specialists, unlike the media, need to be concerned about the majority of patients, not just the ones who are apparently functioning well in transition.

As one who went through the surgery, I wholeheartedly agree. Politics doesn’t mix well with science. When politics forces itself on medicine, patients are the ones who suffer.

Let’s connect the dots. Transgender people report attempting suicide at a staggering rate—above 40%. According to Suicide.org, 90% of all suicides are the result of untreated mental disorders. Over 60% (and possibly up to 90% as shown at Case Western) of transgender people have comorbid psychiatric disorders, which often go wholly untreated.

Could treating the underlying psychiatric disorders prevent transgender suicides? I think the answer is a resounding “yes.”

The evidence is staring us in the face. Tragically high numbers of transgender people attempt suicide. Suicide is the result of untreated mental disorders. A majority of transgender people suffer from untreated comorbid disorders—yet against all reason, laws are being enacted to prevent their treatment.

The article looks at different research and different scholars to make the case that just granting the people gender-reassignment surgery without trying to see what else might need fixing first is a mistake. A mistake that often results in suicides. We are not helping people who need help when we just take their desires at face value, without asking other questions.

Articles on The Public Discourse tend to be long and detailed, but this one is a must-read, because the topic is timely, and we should all have some sort of response ready when this topic comes up.

New study: father absence is a strong predictor of depression for young girls

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
If you want your children to grow up happy, commit yourself to marriage

The study is here on PubMed.

And here’s an article about it posted at The Family in America, a public policy journal.

Excerpt:

Who has benefitted from the war radical feminists have waged against marriage? Certainly not young women. A very large new Canadian study concludes that one of the strongest predictors of depression among young women is the loss of a biological parent. And it is the easy divorces that feminists have pushed for that have typically occasioned such a loss.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia, this new study isolates the factors predicting depression among Canadians ages 16 to 20. The researchers limn these factors by scrutinizing data collected between 1994 and 2007 from a nationally representative sample of 1,715 individuals tracked during this 13-year period.

Predictably, the researchers adduce evidence that such things as parental rejection and childhood anxiety predict depression between a young person’s 16th birthday and his or her 21st.  But gender makes a difference: consistent with other inquiries, this study finds that “girls reported more [depression] than boys.” However, not all girls are equally vulnerable: the data reveal that “The loss of a parent by the ages of 4 to 8 years predicted depression at ages 16 to 20 years for girls [p = 0.008] but not for boys.”

Of course, a girl can lose a parent through death. But the researchers realize that such tragedy occurs far less often than the trauma of parental divorce. Consequently, they know how to interpret parental loss as a predictor of girls’ depression at the threshold between adolescence and young adulthood. This is a finding, they realize, that fits hand-in-glove with the results of a 2008 study establishing that “the effects of parental divorce . . . differ between genders in respect to the development of depression with risk increasing for girls but not for boys.” They further realize that their study harmonizes with a 1997 study concluding that “young women whose parents had divorced reported higher levels of depression compared to young men from divorced families.”

Given the paralyzing effects of depression as “a leading cause of disability worldwide,” the researchers hope their study will lead to “targeted, specific and personalized intervention” that will curb such depression. More particularly, they hope that “girls may benefit from interventions designed to address parental loss due to death, divorce, and other causes.”

But since nothing takes a parent away from a daughter more often in the 21st century than does parental divorce, it is very clear that the kind of intervention girls most need is the kind that will keep their parents together. Just how quickly that intervention comes will depend heavily on how much reality can puncture feminist ideology.

This study makes me think of the problems that we have these days getting married and staying married. I think that there are three kinds of challenges. The first challenge is ideology, e.g. – radical feminism. The second challenge is cultural, e.g. – the hook-up culture on campus. The third challenge is political, e.g. – no-fault divorce. It seems likes the odds are really stacked against marriage-minded people.

Most people like the idea of having someone of the opposite sex commit to them for life. I write a lot about what people should be looking for in a mate. Factors that predict a person’s ability to commit, what their worldview should be, etc. But we also have to remember that we have to be turning ourselves into people who are suited to a lifetime commitment, involving self-denial and self-sacrifice.

A lot of people seem to think that if they meet the right person – the person who makes them feel good – then they won’t have to do any self-denying or any self-sacrificing. But that’s not true. Feelings change. It’s possible for two serial killers to feel good about each other, and to having things in common, but marriage isn’t about whether you “like” the other person and whether they “like” you. Marriage works when you have two people who are comfortable making commitments. Two people who are comfortable with responsibilities, expectations and obligations.

The point I am trying to make here is that not only must we be looking for someone who can be faithful, loyal, commitment through thick and thin, but we must also prepare to become a person like that. If we make choices for our own happiness every day – fun and thrills – then we are not making ourselves into the kind of people who take responsibility and make commitments.

The strange thing is that those who choose fun over and over and over again seem to make the worst decisions when it comes to choosing mates. Of course it’s easier to pick someone who is not too moral and not too religious. Then they won’t be able to judge you. They’ll just let you do whatever you want and never shame you for anything.

The problem is that marriage works best when two people are comfortable with moral obligations to others. You have to be someone who is comfortable with obligations over the long term. And you have to choose someone who has a strong sense of morality, otherwise they won’t honor their moral obligations to others. Commitment means doing what is right regardless of how you feel about it, It means giving up on the pursuit of fun, in order to build something strong that will take you into your old age.

Study: fathers are important for the development of children’s brains

Fathers and children
Fathers and children

The study was reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Dr. Braun’s group found that at 21 days, the fatherless animals had less dense dendritic spines compared to animals raised by both parents, though they “caught up” by day 90. However, the length of some types of dendrites was significantly shorter in some parts of the brain, even in adulthood, in fatherless animals.

“It just shows that parents are leaving footprints on the brain of their kids,” says Dr. Braun, 54 years old.

The neuronal differences were observed in a part of the brain called the amygdala, which is related to emotional responses and fear, and the orbitofrontal cortex, or OFC, the brain’s decision-making center.

[…]The balance between these two brain parts is critical to normal emotional and cognitive functioning, according to Dr. Braun. If the OFC isn’t active, the amygdala “goes crazy, like a horse without a rider,” she says. In the case of the fatherless pups, there were fewer dendritic spines in the OFC, while the dendrite trees in the amygdala grew more and longer branches.

A preliminary analysis of the degus’ behavior showed that fatherless animals seemed to have a lack of impulse control, Dr. Braun says. And, when they played with siblings, they engaged in more play-fighting or aggressive behavior.

In a separate study in Dr. Braun’s lab conducted by post-doctoral researcher Joerg Bock, degu pups were removed from their caregivers for one hour a day. Just this small amount of stress leads the pups to exhibit more hyperactive behaviors and less focused attention, compared to those who aren’t separated, Dr. Braun says. They also exhibit changes in their brain.

The basic wiring between the brain regions in the degus is the same as in humans, and the nerve cells are identical in their function. “So on that level we can assume that what happens in the animal’s brain when it’s raised in an impoverished environment … should be very similar to what happens in our children’s brain,” Dr. Braun says.

Read the whole thing.

I think this is important because we hear so much today that marriage can be redefined, that having one of each parent doesn’t matter, that live-in boyfriends and stepfathers have the same motivation to care for a woman’s children as the biological father does. We don’t want to make judgments, even if setting boundaries is better for children. A child’s well-being is enormously affected by the woman’s choice of biological father.  You can’t have it both ways – either we are going to judge women who choose men who don’t have the desire to commit to marriage, and do the father role, OR we are going to take things away from children by encouraging women to choose men based on “feelings” instead of abilities. Lowering moral standards and removing moral obligations hurts children. It sounds so nice when we tell women, “you can do whatever you feel like, and just forget about responsibilities, expectations and obligations”, but letting women be guided by their feelings harms children. My stock broker makes me feel uncomfortable because he knows more than I do, and does not respect my opinion. But I pay him to make investment decisions for me. I mustn’t let my pride get in the way of letting him do his job – a job he is more qualified than I am to do. Let him do his job.

Here’s a related question: Are biological fathers or unrelated men more dangerous for children?

This article from the Weekly Standard answers the question.

Excerpt:

A March 1996 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics contains some interesting findings that indicate just how widespread the problem may be. In a nationally representative survey of state prisoners jailed for assaults against or murders of children, fully one-half of respondents reported the victim was a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring. (All but 3 percent of those who committed violent crimes against children were men.) A close relationship between victim and victimizer is also suggested by the fact that three-quarters of all the crimes occurred in either the perpetrator’s home or the victim’s.

A 1994 paper published in the Journal of Comparative Family Studies looked at 32,000 documented cases of child abuse. Of the victims, only 28 percent lived with both biological parents (far fewer than the 68 percent of all children who live with both parents); 44 percent lived with their mother only (as do 25 percent of all children); and 18 percent lived with their mother and an unrelated adult (double the 9 percent of all children who live with their mother and an unrelated adult).

These findings mirror a 1993 British study by the Family Education Trust, which meticulously explored the relationship between family structure and child abuse. Using data on documented cases of abuse in Britain between 1982 and 1988, the report found a high correlation between child abuse and the marital status of the parents.

Specifically, the British study found that the incidence of abuse was an astounding 33 times higher in homes where the mother was cohabiting with an unrelated boyfriend than in stable nuclear families. Even when the boyfriend was the children’s biological father, the chances of abuse were twice as high.

These findings are consonant with those published a year earlier by Leslie Margolin of the University of Iowa in the journal Child Abuse and Neglect. Prof. Margolin found that boyfriends were 27 times more likely than natural parents to abuse a child. The next-riskiest group, siblings, were only twice as likely as parents to abuse a child.

More recently, a report by Dr. Michael Stiffman presented at the latest meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in October, studied the 175 Missouri children under the age of 5 who were murdered between 1992 and 1994. It found that the risk of a child’s dying at the hands of an adult living in the child’s own household was eight times higher if the adult was biologically unrelated.

The Heritage Foundation’s Patrick Fagan discovered that the number of child-abuse cases appeared to rise in the 1980s along with the general societal acceptance of cohabitation before, or instead of, marriage. That runs counter to the radical-feminist view, which holds that marriage is an oppressive male institution of which violence is an integral feature. If that were true, then child abuse and domestic violence should have decreased along with the rise in cohabitation.

Heritage also found that in the case of very poor children (those in households earning less than $ 15,000 per year), 75 percent lived in a household where the biological father was absent. And 50 percent of adults with less than a high-school education lived in cohabitation arrangements. “This mix — poverty, lack of education, children, and cohabitation — is an incubator for violence,” Fagan says.

Why, then, do we ignore the problem? Fagan has a theory: “It is extremely politically incorrect to suggest that living together might not be the best living arrangement.”

The moral of the story is that it is a lot safer for children if we promote marriage as a way of attaching mothers and fathers to their children. Fathers who have a biological connection to children are a lot less likely to harm them. We should probably be teaching women to choose men who have a certain tenderness towards people they mentor or nurture, as well. These things are not free, you have to persuade women to value the male tendency to want to lead / guide / mentor. A lot of social problems like child poverty, promiscuity and violence cannot be solved by replacing a father with a check from the government. We need to support fathers by empowering them in their traditional roles. Let the men lead. Swallow your feminist instincts, and prefer men who take seriously their role of leading others upward.

Obama’s irresponsible student loan policies leave taxpayers with trillion-dollar bubble

President Obama's student loan bubble
President Obama’s student loan bubble

This is from Investors Business Daily.

It says:

In 2010, Obama eliminated the federal guaranteed loan program, which let private lenders offer student loans at low interest rates. Now, the Department of Education is the only place to go for such loans.

Obama sold this government takeover as a way to save money — why bear the costs of guaranteeing private loans, he said, when the government could cut out the middleman and lend the money itself?

The cost savings didn’t happen. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office just increased its 10-year forecast for the loan program’s costs by $27 billion, or 30%.

What did happen was an explosive growth in the amount of federal student loan debt. President Clinton phased in direct federal lending in 1993 as an option, but over the next 15 years the amount of loans was fairly stable. The result of Obama’s action is striking. In each of the past six years, federal direct student loan debt has climbed by more than $100 billion. (See chart.)

And since Obama keeps making it easier and easier to avoid repaying those loans, it’s a problem that taxpayers will eventually have to shoulder.

Through words and actions, Obama has encouraged irresponsibility on the part of student borrowers. He constantly talks as if student debt were an unfair burden they unknowingly had foisted upon them.

At the same time, he’s made it easier and easier to avoid paying back student loans in full. Earlier this year, for example, Obama expanded eligibility for his “pay as you earn” program, which limits loan payments to 10% of income, with any debt left after 20 years forgiven.

Students got the message. The St. Louis Fed reports that 27.3% of student loans in repayment are at least a month behind in payments. That’s a far higher delinquency rate than any other kind of debt, and it’s significantly higher than the delinquency rate 10 years ago.

“This overall level of delinquency is very concerning,” concluded authors Juan Sanchez and Lijin Zhu.

A 2013 Consumer Financial Protection Board report found that less than half of this federal loan money was actually being paid. About 30% was held by borrowers still in school or in a grace period, another chunk in deferment or forbearance, and almost 14% was in default.

The problem here is that whenever the government nationalizes something that the private sector is doing, it always creates a problem. Let me explain. If student loans (or mortgage loans) are run solely by the private sector, then the motivation for lending money out at interest is to make money for the bank’s depositors and investors. In other words, because the bankers are in a free market and have to compete for depositors and investors, they have an interest in making sure that the loans they make get paid back.

But when the government takes over loans, they are not interested in being wise with the money they lend out – it’s not their money. They want to lend out as much as possible today in order to buy votes, and then kick the can down the road on the repayment. So instead of being careful about asking “will this get paid back?” they ask “how can I borrow from the future in order to buy as many votes as I can right now?” And that’s how we got the housing crisis of 2008, as well as this trillion-dollar student loan crisis.

When you take the profit motive out of the lending decision, then money gets lend to people who will never be able to pay it back. No private bank that has to answer to shareholders hands out money to students who want to study underwater basket-weaving. But the government does. They want to buy as many votes as possible. And besides, this is not their money. They are borrowing it from the future earnings of the very students they are giving it to! That’s what happens when you let big government decide everything.

Whenever big government politicians want to buy votes with taxpayer money, they always sell it to the people with sob stories about some poor, helpless group of people will suffer through no fault of their own. There are a lot of voters who will vote for politicians who cry crocodile tears for them, especially ones who don’t understand economics. There is no free lunch – somebody has to pay. Democrats are basically throwing a party for students, and then mailing them the (unexpected) bill for it, with interest.

Is marriage a good deal for men? How can we make it a better deal for men?

The Elusive Wapiti, a Christian men’s rights blogger, posted this video from Dr. Helen Reynolds, author of “The Marriage Strike”. In the video, she gives 6 reasons why men are shying away from marriage. I agree with some of her reasons, but I wanted to respond and give the positive case for marriage. Also, I think it is worth reading a very challenging comment from “Gaza” in that post, who says that women are pushing marriage off for too long so that they end up not being prepared for it even if they meet a marriage-minded man.

So, onto to the positive aspects of marriage for men.

Let me quote from this NIH publication, which argues that marriage is a great value for men.

Look:

One of the strongest, most consistent benefits of marriage is better physical health and its consequence, longer life. Married people are less likely than unmarried people to suffer from long-term illness or disability (Murphy et al. 1997), and they have better survival rates for some illnesses (Goodwin et al. 1987). They have fewer physical problems and a lower risk of death from various causes, especially those with a behavioral component; the health benefits are generally larger for men (Ross et al. 1990).

A longitudinal analysis based on data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a large national sample, documents a significantly lower mortality rate for married individuals (Lillard and Waite 1995). For example, simulations based on this research show that, other factors held constant, nine out of ten married women alive at age 48 would still be alive at age 65; by contrast, eight out of ten never-married women would survive to age 65. The corresponding comparison for men reveals a more pronounced difference: nine out of ten for the married group versus only six out of ten for those who were never married (Waite and Gallagher 2000).

And more:

Recent studies based on longitudinal data have found that getting married (and staying married to the same person) is associated with better mental health outcomes. Horwitz et al. (1996), Marks and Lambert (1998), and Simon (2002) present evidence of improvements in emotional well-being following marriage, and declines following the end of a union. Marks and Lambert (1998) report that marital gain affects men and women in the same way, but marital loss is generally more depressing for women. Analyses that control for the selection of the psychologically healthy into marriage, and also include a wider range of measures of mental well-being, find that although there are differences by sex in the types of emotional responses to marital transitions, the psychological benefits associated with marriage apply equally to men and women (Horwitz et al. 1996; Simon 2002).

Marriage is also associated with greater overall happiness. Analysis of data from the General Social Surveys of 1972–96 shows that, other factors held constant, the likelihood that a respondent would report being happy with life in general is substantially higher among those who are currently married than among those who have never been married or have been previously married; the magnitude of the gap has remained fairly stable over the past 35 years and is similar for men and women (Waite 2000).

And more:

A large body of literature documents that married men earn higher wages than their single counterparts. This differential, known as the “marriage premium,” is sizable. A rigorous and thorough statistical analysis by Korenman and Neumark (1991) reports that married white men in America earn 11 percent more than their never-married counterparts, controlling for all the standard human capital variables. Between 50 and 80 percent of the effect remains, depending on the specification, after correcting for selectivity into marriage based on fixed unobservable characteristics. Other research shows that married people have higher family income than the nonmarried, with the gap between the family income of married and single women being wider than that between married and single men (Hahn 1993). In addition, married people on average have higher levels of wealth and assets (Lupton and Smith 2003). The magnitude of the difference depends on the precise measure used, but in all cases is far more than twice that of other household types, suggesting that this result is not merely due to the aggregation of two persons’ wealth.

And more:

Beyond its integrative function, emphasized above, marriage also has a regulative function. Married individuals, especially men, are more likely than their single counterparts to have someone who closely monitors their health-related conduct; marriage also contributes to self-regulation and the internalization of norms for healthful behavior (Umberson 1987). Positive and negative externalities within marriage also play a role: when an individual behaves in a way that is conducive to good health, the benefits spill over to the spouse; similarly, unhealthy behaviors inflict damage not only on the individual but also on the partner. In this way, marriage promotes healthy conduct. In addition, the enhanced sense of meaning and purpose provided by marriage inhibits self-destructive activities (Gove 1973). Consistent with this channel of causality, married individuals have lower rates of mortality for virtually all causes of death in which the person’s psychological condition and behavior play a major role, including suicide and cirrhosis of the liver (Gove 1973). Lillard and Waite (1995) find that for men(but not for women) there is a substantial decline in the risk of death immediately after marriage, which suggests that the regulation of health behaviors is a key mechanism linking marriage to physical health benefits in the case of men.

Now I want to talk about is policies that will help to promote marriage, because that will help to make marriage safer and more attractive to men.

And for that, we go to the Family Research Council.

They write:

Our tax policy should protect and encourage marriage. The marriage penalty should be eliminated, so that married couples do not pay higher taxes than single people or cohabiting couples. Along with the aim of strengthening marriage, our tax policy should encourage childbearing and adoption. The 2001 tax relief bill signed by President Bush provided a gradual phase-out of part of the marriage penalty[75] by 2010, a phased-in doubling of the child tax credit from $500 to $1,000, and a doubling of the adoption tax credit from $5,000 to $10,000. But this tax bill expires in 2011. In his 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush called for more prompt tax relief, including immediate marriage-penalty relief and a permanent increase in the child tax credit to $1,000. Representative Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) recently introduced the Adoption Tax Relief Guarantee Act, which would make the adoption tax credit permanent. These tax measures would ensure that married couples do not pay higher taxes simply because they are married and that families receive much-needed tax relief.

Along with providing tax credits, the government should adequately fund abstinence-until-marriage programs, which are very effective in teaching young people how to save sex for marriage. With one out of three babies born out of wedlock today, young people need this message more than ever. The federal government has provided some abstinence-until-marriage funding in recent years, but comprehensive sex education/contraception programs, which downplay abstinence and encourage sexual activity and condom use, are vastly over-funded in comparison. In 2002, abstinence-until-marriage programs received $102 million, while teen sex education and contraception programs received at least $427.7 million.

[…]Welfare reform should aim to strengthen marriage, because the breakdown of marriage is a root cause of poverty, as most welfare recipients are never-married or divorced mothers.

[…]Historically, welfare laws in the United States have been anti-marriage. The old welfare system, under the Aid to Dependent Families program (AFDC), taught single mothers two lessons: don’t work and don’t get married, or your benefits will decrease. Even though the landmark welfare reform law of 1996 encouraged marriage and imposed the family cap ending the reward for illegitimacy, marriage penalties still exist in the welfare law. The welfare system is composed largely of means-tested aid programs, which reduce benefits as non-welfare income increases. This means that if a single mother marries, she will lose welfare benefits; therefore, it is more lucrative for her to stay single. This anti-marriage bias should be removed or at least reduced in order to encourage marriage and discourage single parenthood and cohabitation.

The problem with that last one is that Obama gutted the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. I think that was favorable to the people who tend to vote Democrat, but not good for those of us who favor marriage. In fact, Democrats in general oppose all three of those pro-marriage policies, as well as supporting no-fault divorce laws and opposing shared parenting laws.

So I guess I am posting these ideas to let women who want to get married know that there are definitely things that are scaring men off of marriage, and that nothing makes a man less scared of marriage than a woman who is aware of these dangers, enthusiastic about the benefits for men, and passionate about pro-marriage policies.