Wednesday, July 08, 2015

word of the day: titrate

Dr. N. was a decent, sensitive man who had known Michael since his initial psychosis nearly fourteen years earlier, and he too was disturbed by the new, drug-related problems he was encountering with many of his patients on Largactil. He was trying to titrate the drug, to find a dosage which would be just enough but not too much or too little.

… I wondered whether systems in the brain concerned with the perception (or projection) of meaning … systems underlying a sense of wonder … systems for appreciation of the beauty of art and science, had lost their balance in schizophrenia, producing a mental world overcharged with intense emotion and distortions of reality. … [A]ny attempt to titrate them, damp them down, could tip the person from a pathologically heightened state to one of great dullness, a sort of mental death.

definition: continuously measure and adjust the balance of (a physiological function or drug dosage).

Oliver Sacks does a fine job of defining titrate upon introducing it. Sacks doesn’t use much jargon, but when he does he readily helps out his lay readers with the likely unfamiliar term.

source: On the Move: a life by Oliver Sacks
2015. Borzoi / Alfred A. Knopf, New York


I marked a couple places in the autobiography where Oliver Sacks mentions books that look worth hunting up:

Mind of a Mnemonist by A. R. Luria
“I read the first thirty pages thinking it was a novel. But then I realized that it was in fact a case history — the deepest and most detailed case history I had ever read, a case history with the dramatic power, the feeling and the structure of a novel.”

Pride and a Daily Marathon by Jonathan Cole
“[A] virus … deprived [Ian Waterman] of all proprioception below his head. [Proprioception is the sense we have of inhabiting a body.] … When [Ian] sits, he must consciously hold himself erect so he does not fall forward … He may appear perfectly normal, but if the lights suddenly go out … he will fall helplessly to the ground [as Ian has compensated for his lack of proprioception by continually checking himself visually]. Over the years Jonathan [Cole] and Ian have formed a deep relationship — as doctor and patient, investigator and subject, and, increasingly, as colleagues and friends (they have been working together for thirty years now). In the course of this decades-long collaboration, Jonathan has written dozens of scientific articles and a remarkable book, Pride and a Daily Marathon, about Ian.”

No comments: