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Medicine Programming

Ask Slashdot: Working With Others, As a Schizophrenic Developer? 218

Posted by timothy
from the brains-play-tricks-sometimes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: "I hope there are a few open source developers on Slashdot who understand this. As a developer who works alone and remotely (while living with my own family) — and is schizophrenic — there would be times I would feel very high (a surge of uncontrollable thoughts), or low because of the kind of failures that some patients with mental illness would have, and because of the emotional difficulty of being physically alone for 8 hours a day. This led me to decide to work physically together with my co-workers. Have you been in this situation before? If you have, how well did you manage it? (Medications are a part of the therapy as well.)"
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Ask Slashdot: Working With Others, As a Schizophrenic Developer?

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  • by mspohr (589790) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:35PM (#45760643)

    ...for any reason... Ever!

  • by TemperedAlchemist (2045966) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:44PM (#45760715)

    Schizophrenia isn't psychopathy. Not that psychopathy is a condition that would affect the quality of code.

    You should educate yourself about mental illness. You clearly do not understand it.

    Further, it's illegal to discriminate against the mentally ill.

  • Practice (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:53PM (#45760787)
    I am bipolar, not schizophrenic, but for what it's worth.

    When stress can trigger problems:
    1) Knowing the limits of what sources of stress I can deal with is important;
    2) That those who work with you know that it is a higher priority for you to avoid excessive stress than getting a task finished.
    3) That if stress is approaching a red line, that you may have to disappear for a bit without explanation (possibly explaining later when you can).

    Similar for other sources of difficulty.

    With regards to thoughts: I practice Taiji (10 years), Meditation (4 years) and Yoga.  Learning to bring your attention back to a desired focus when distracted is something that we're not naturally good at, but can become good at with practice.  Practicing regularly (just like you brush your teeth each day) makes the awareness and gentle, loving yet firm self control become habitual.  Being able to dominate your thoughts with a passage of text (memorised by rote) or a single word (like a matra) can be very helpful, since this can starve annoying thoughts of attention.

    That said, with learning to deal with such difficulties, you should:
    1) Expect to fail;
    2) Expect to get up and try again, without being hard on yourself.
    3) Do your best to limit the damage from breakdowns, etc, for example, by taking a break earlier rather than later and being more open about real world difficulties.

    With respect to social contact, that is important: how your behaviour reflects off others who know you can tell you things you can't otherwise notice.  This again takes practice to develop you awareness.

    I could go on, but I have to have dinner and head out in a moment, and this is about as much as I want to put on a public forum.
  • Re:One suggestion... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @01:57PM (#45760821) Homepage

    I absolutely agree... except about the "right away" part. I'd say give it a week or two for politics' sake.

    I have ADHD, so while working I feel a mental compulsion to jump around between three or four projects at once. I know that one of those projects is always going to end up being the one preempted by everything else, because I usually have enough competence for three projects, but feel most comfortable juggling four. I keep Slashdot as that fourth.

    When starting with a new team, I'll usually spend a week figuring out the team dynamics and demonstrating my abilities to the rest of the team. Yes, I keep Slashdot open on my computer, but I'm not slacking off. My projects still meet deadlines and work as promised. Once I can show that, I'll mention to people, often individually, that I have ADHD, and I'll explain with a few prepared sentences how I'm very uncomfortable being limited to focusing on a single task. Some folks will ask questions, others will just accept it, but generally speaking everyone is open by then to the idea that even though I'm mentally different, I can still be a productive member of the team.

    I have met one person who was concerned about my capability. He was under the impression that having ADHD meant I would be unable to focus on anything, which is an unfortunate persistent myth. By explaining my condition at the end of a productive week, I was able to give clear and specific examples of when my ADHD was an asset, and describe my mitigation techniques when it was a liability. We ended up working well together.

  • by mspohr (589790) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @02:19PM (#45760967)

    I am a doctor with many years experience working in the ER. I have encountered many schizophrenic patients who have stopped taking their meds, end up unable to cope and need hospital admission. What happens is that people feel better (because of their meds) and begin to think that they don't need the meds so they stop.
    Just don't stop taking your meds. The reason you are feeling better is because of the meds. Just don't stop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:26PM (#45761375)

    Further, it's illegal to discriminate against the mentally ill

    Not entirely. A mentally ill person must be diagnosed and be following the treatment of their doctor. We're going through this a bit where I work. We have an employee who is clearly suffering from borderline personality disorder and he's caused no end of grief for his managers and coworkers. Yet he refuses to seek professional help and the process has started to fire him for his behavior.

    Also, businesses must only offer reasonable accommodations. If the illness requires an unreasonable accommodation, the employer does not have to provide it.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <> on Sunday December 22, 2013 @03:27PM (#45761383)

    Psychopathy means pathology of the psyche. Nothing more, nothing less.

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    from Wikipedia:

    Psychopathy is defined as either an aspect of personality or as a personality disorder, characterized by enduring dissocial or antisocial behavior, a diminished capacity for empathy or remorse, and poor behavioral controls or fearless dominance. There are various definitions which are only partly overlapping and sometimes appear contradictory.

    There is little point in arguing over definitions, much less so if you are trying to turn the conventional usage on it's head. Based on the context:

    I'm not convinced that "software developer" is an appropriate job for a raving psychopath.

    It is clear the person he was replying to (you?) was using the conventional meaning, not the archaic one you listed above.

  • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:33PM (#45761823)
    Unlikely. His post history mentions at other points being in his 60's and has referred to medical school. A fake profile with a decade of history seems like a lot of effort to go through to pretend to be a doctor on a tech forum. Not impossible, but I'm going to go with Occam's Razor on this one.
  • by matria (157464) on Sunday December 22, 2013 @04:48PM (#45761931)
    I hired a woman with mental health problems to work in my computer shop. I told her that as far as I was concerned it was no different than if she were diabetic and needed to take medication to control her blood sugar. Unfortunately she did not keep her doctor's appointments, even though I ended up marking them on the shop whiteboard and reminding her, and she did not take her medication regularly. After eight or nine months, and some pretty unhappy clients, I had to let her go. She was very bitter and tried to cause problems. So I can understand why many firms might be reluctant to hire someone with such an issue.

There is hardly a thing in the world that some man can not make a little worse and sell a little cheaper.