The DSM-V will be dropping the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder. It took YEARS for the shrinks to admit that some children were experiencing psychotic manias from the stimulants given to children with ADHD because they didn’t have ADHD! The seminal book on the topic is The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder, Third Edition
Another thing that is STILL missing is an anosognosia specifier. It is my nightmare to be trying to convince some evil bastard that I am not insane.
Anosognosia means you are unaware that you are exhibiting the symptoms of your illness. Self-awareness, i.e. the ability to be objective about yourself, isn’t a guaranteed just because you’re human, but when a mentally ill person doesn’t have it, they can get in extra trouble.
The DSM-IV has specifiers for “last episode depressive” or “with psychosis” but there isn’t one for “painfully aware that she is batshit insane.”
It’s not enough to stay calm and not talk about space aliens. The powers-that-be ASSUME you’ll be on your best behavior. Once on a psych ward even a sane person would be hard-pressed to get back out. There was an experiment a few years ago in which psych grad students feigned hearing voices to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Once in, they behaved normally and tried to be released. In all cases the students had to submit to the will of their captors and admit they were mentally ill before being allowed to leave.
“The uniform failure to recognize sanity cannot be attributed to the quality of the hospitals, for, although there were considerable variations among them, several are considered excellent. Nor can it be alleged that there was simply not enough time to observe the pseudopatients. Length of hospitalization ranged from 7 to 52 days, with an average of 19 days. The pseudopatients were not, in fact, carefully observed, but this failure speaks more to traditions within psychiatric hospitals than to lack of opportunity.”
The vagus nerve is a cranial nerve, a honking big nerve that runs from your skull, down your chest and into your abdomen. The punch-in-the-gut feeling of a jolt of adrenalin/the start of an anxiety attack is carried on the vagus nerve.
The usual paradigm for emotions is they start in the brain. Most of the body’s hormones have a dual purpose as a neurotransmitter. The vagus nerve helps coordinate the physical feeling with the emotional feeling – they are one and the same. The mind-body connection.
Most of the body’s serotonin is in the gut. A squirt of serotonin doesn’t just happen in the brain, it happens in the whole body. Ditto adrenaline. The vagus nerve conducts information in both directions. I don’t think it’s entirely accurate to blame anxiety on a brain malfunction.
An interesting treatment for anxiety is “Vagus Nerve Stimulation.” In VNS, a device is implanted that applies current to the vagus nerve is to overwhelm it. It’s kind of like a TENS unit for pain. VNS is a last resort for intractible anxiety.
One implication of this is that if you can control the physical aspects of anxiety – relax your muscles, slow down your breathing & heart rate – then the emotional component will follow. Once the emotions are managed you can work out whatever brought on the anxiety.
Candace Pert, Ph.D. discovered opium (endorphin) receptors in the brain. She wrote an enlightening book Molecules Of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine.
Also check out Timothy Leary. One of his more interesting ideas is that we have receptor sites for chemicals that haven’t been invented yet. Alexander Shulgin was a chemist who formulated a lot of them, but I don’t recommend you try it. 🙂
HBO has made a movie about the life of Dr. Temple Grandin, author of "Thinking in Pictures," the autobiography of an autistic woman. Dr. Grandin is an expert in animal husbandry whose specialty is humane treatment of animals in the cattle industry. The movie is a must see. Preorder Temple Grandin from amazon.com.
Starring Claire Danes, Julia Ormond, Catherine O’Hara and David Strathairn, Temple Grandin paints a picture of a young woman’s perseverance and determination while struggling with the isolating challenges of autism at a time when it was still quite unknown. The film chronicles Temple’s early diagnosis; her turbulent growth and development during her school years; the enduring support she receied from her mother (Ormond) , aunt (O’Hara) and her science teacher (Strathairn); and her emergence as a woman with an innate sensitiviity and understanding of animal behavior.
— HBO Movies, Temple Grandin
More than half of the task force members who will oversee the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s most important diagnostic handbook have ties to the drug industry, reports a consumer watchdog group.
If you haven’t read Kay Redfield Jamison’s “<a href="Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament“>Touched With Fire; Manic-Depressive Ilness and the Artistic Temperament” run out and get a copy. She is a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins and is bipolar herself.
“I believe that curiosity, wonder and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways that less intense emotions can never do. I believe, in short, that we are equally beholden to heart and mind, and that those who have particularly passionate temperaments and questioning minds leave the world a different place for their having been there. It is important to value intellect and discipline, of course, but it is also important to recognize the power of irrationality, enthusiasm and vast energy. Intensity has its costs, of course — in pain, in hastily and poorly reckoned plans, in impetuousness — but it has its advantages as well.”
Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Author and Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University
in “The Benefits of Restlessness and Jagged Edges”
NPR Morning Edition, June 6, 2005
In order to recognize our self-image, we can no longer identify with it. In other words, we have to learn how to objectify our own mental processes.
-Matthew Flickstein, Journey to the Center
Reprinted in Daily Wisdom: 365 Buddhist Inspirations, edited by Josh Bartok.
Photo Source – Flickr
Author *Gabisa Motonia