Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Trivia from Doing Mental Health Evaluations Over the Years.

Actually, don't get too excited....

I'm going to share only two things that I've learned from assisting in completing Menta Status Exams, and from assessing mental health and substance abuse in individual,  since the 80s.

The Mental Status Exam is an exam given by psychiatrists, neurologists, and their co-professionals (like me) to examine the cognitive state of someone, and to see if they're just making up a mental illness or head injury as they go along.  I say a lot more about this, satirically, in my Amazon How-To List:  "How to pass your mental status exam."

We ask questions to tell if someone knows the date, where they are and why, and who is in the room with them; how they would interpret certain proverbs; how they follow simple directions, etc.  One of the questions that seems to have lost popularity lately is "Who is the President?  Can you name the presidents backwards starting with (that president]?"

There is a definite pattern there that doesn't just seem to reflect a nationwide reduction in memory function, but other social phenomenon.

I mentioned I started assisting with these in the 80s.  Reagan was the president.  Unless they did have a memory deficit, people usually were easily able to list Reagan, Carter, and Ford.  Sometimes they went straight from Carter to Nixon but not often.  Things changed little when Bush was president.

But after Clinton was elected, it didn't take me long to notice a lot of people forgot George H. W. Bush.  They would always answer, "Clinton, ah, Reagan, ah....Carter?"  EVERYONE skipped the elder George Bush.  Everyone.  Until his son was elected; which seemed to be a prompt for everyone.

The second thing I've noticed happens whenever I ask someone if they smoke tobacco, and they do.  When I ask "How much?", they don't answer "a half pack a day", "a pack a day", "2 packs a day."  What they say is, "I smoke about 4 or 5 cigarettes a day."  "Uh....maybe 10?" and the like.

For one thing I think it's a good sign about people being able to cut down on their cigarettes, or at least wanting to others to believe they have cut down (which is the first step in acknowledging they have to stop, IMHO).  But I also started noticing this shortly after Barack Obama reported he was still smoking, but was down to about 6 or 7 cigarettes a day.

So, even if you don't like Obama, keep in mind he may be responsible for a lot of people cutting down on a deadly habit....without an executive order forcing others to stop.  Yet.

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