May 22, 2011

Wallowa Lake diagnostic training

Sculpture on Main Street of Joseph, Oregon
with Eagle Cap Wilderness Area in background
(K Franklin)

On the day that the world didn't end, I found it fitting to be literally at the end of the road, giving a training on controversies in psychiatric diagnosis. The setting was Oregon’s picturesque Wallowa Lake, where for 26 years the Eastern Oregon Psychological Association has sponsored an annual retreat.

The mental health professionals at the retreat were a bright and independent bunch whose practices take them across scenic mountainous terrain to far-flung rural communities, Indian reservations, jails and psychiatric facilities in eastern Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Since Oregon has avoided the Sexually Violent Predator quagmire, the practitioners – as well as the psychologists from Eastern Oregon University in La Grande in attendance -- were both amused and appalled to learn about the pseudoscientific constructs of hebephilia and paraphilic coercive disorder for which the sex offender industry is lobbying. Other controversial diagnoses and proposed diagnoses covered in the daylong workshop included:
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder and Psychopathy
  • Parental Alienation Syndrome
  • Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome
  • Mild Neurocognitive Disorder
  • Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Traumatic Grief Disorder
  • Gambling Disorder
Wallowa River as seen from Chief Joseph
Trail (K Franklin)
If you ever get a chance to attend this annual retreat, which is not well advertised but always takes place the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend, I recommend it highly. Not only is the crowd an enjoyable and intellectual one, but the setting is amazing. It's not for no reason that the Nez Perce consider sacred this valley butting up against the mountains of the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.

The legendary Chief Joseph is buried on a glacial moraine overlooking the lake. The town named in his honor, Joseph, was a dying old ranching and mining community when it was discovered by artists who have reinvigorated the main drag, opening shuttered storefronts and installing amazing sculptures on every corner. Summer vacationers can now rub shoulders with cowboys and Indians in gourmet restaurants featuring local micro-brews and wines.

It's not an easy place to get to (one must catch a puddle jumper to Walla Walla, Washington or Pendleton, Oregon and then drive for several hours), but its breathtaking beauty and unique character make it well worth a visit.

Special thanks to David Starr, Dwight Mowry, Marianne Weaver, Terry Templeman, Charles Lyons, and Stephen and Beth Condon for all of your work and your kindness in arranging and facilitating this event.

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