Psychiatric disorders — like autism, depression, and schizophrenia — take a terrible toll on human suffering. We know much less about their treatment and the understanding of their basic mechanisms than we do about diseases of the body.
Think about it: in 2013 — the second decade of the millennium — if you’re concerned about a cancer diagnosis, and you go to your doctor, you get bone scans, biopsies, and blood tests. In 2013, if you’re concerned about a depression diagnosis, you go to your doctor and what do you get? A questionnaire.
Part of the reason for this is that we have an oversimplified and increasingly outmoded view of the biological basis of psychiatric disorders. We tend to view them — and the popular press aids and abets this view — as ‘chemical imbalances’ in the brain, as if the brain were some kind of chemical soup full of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
This view is conditioned by the fact that many of the drugs that are prescribed to treat these disorders, like Prozac, act by globally changing brain chemistry, as if the brain were indeed a bag of chemical soup.
But that can’t be the answer, because these drugs actually don’t work all that well. A lot of people won’t take them, or stop taking them, because of their unpleasant side effects. These drugs have so many side effects, because using them to treat a complex psychiatric disorder is a bit like trying to change your engine oil by opening a can and pouring it all over the engine block. Some of it will drip into the right place, but a lot of it will do more harm than good.
Kerry Skarbakka wants to capture the feeling you get when you’re about to eat it — wrecking your bike, tripping down the stairs, falling off a ladder — and you know it. The ground comes flying up and for a split second you’re resigned to letting events take their course. To do that, he voluntarily throws himself off of things and takes a photo in midair.
He sets up these falling photos by scoping a location he likes and then figuring out what he needs to stay safe during the plunge. If he can get away without using ropes, great, but if he needs to, Skarbakka will wear a harness underneath his clothing and tie off to an anchor. He tries to keep the falls shorter than seven feet. His girlfriend usually snaps the photos, but he says he’s also occasionally resorted to asking random people on the street to push the button.
“I ask [people], ‘Can you press the shutter when I look most compromised?’ which often gets a weird reaction,” says Skarbakka, an assistant professor of digital media and photographic studies at Prescott College in Arizona.
See more of Skarbakka’s images over @ Raw File!
“I do not choose to be a common man,
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Humbled and dulled by having the
State look after me.
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To fail and to succeed.
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To the guaranteed existence;
The thrill of fulfillment
To the stale calm of Utopia.
I will not trade freedom for beneficence
Nor my dignity for a handout
I will never cower before any master
Nor bend to any threat.
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Proud and unafraid;
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This, with God’s help, I have done
All this is what it means
To be an Entrepreneur.”