Tag Archives: Disorders

How Buddhist Rituals Helped My OCD

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Our society likes to portray obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a cute quirk, a goofy, if irritating, eccentricity. It is not. For the person undergoing OCD experience, it is a form of mental terrorism.

This terrorism takes the form of what psychologists call ‘intrusive thoughts’ — unwanted, painful thoughts or images that invade one’s consciousness, triggering profound fear and anxiety. This is the ‘obsessive’ part of OCD, and it can arise in even the most mundane circumstances. Sitting here typing, for example, I sometimes feel modest pain in my fingers, and my mind kicks into gear: You’re typing too much and causing permanent damage to your hands. Feel those little irritations at the second knuckle of your left ring finger? Those are the harbingers of arthritis. This is how it starts.

read the rest of the article by Matt Bieber here at Aeon.

The Language Of Schizophrenia

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Professor Robert Sapolsky finishes his lecture on language and then dives into his discussion about schizophrenia. He discusses environmental factors as well as genetic characteristics that could apply to people who are affected. He describes schizophrenia as a disease of thought disorder and inappropriate emotional attributes. [quoted from the description box beneath the video]

Why Some People Actually Enjoy Having Schizophrenia

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Why Some People Actually Enjoy Having Schizophrenia

by Mhs411 of Mental Health Specialist 411

Schizophrenia , literally meaning:  a psychotic disorder characterized by loss of contact with the environment, by noticeable deterioration in the level of functioning in everyday life, and by disintegration of personality expressed as disorder of feeling, thought (as delusions), perception (as hallucinations), and behavior —called also dementia praecox – m-w.comcan be brought on by many factors.

Schizophrenia has a strong hereditary component. Individuals with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) who has schizophrenia have a 10 percent chance of developing the disorder, as opposed to the 1 percent chance of the general population.

But schizophrenia is only influenced by genetics, not determined by it. While schizophrenia runs in families, about 60% of schizophrenic patients have no family members with the disorder. Furthermore, individuals who are genetically predisposed to schizophrenia don’t always develop the disease, which shows that biology is not destiny.

Twin and adoption studies suggest that inherited genes make a person vulnerable to schizophrenia and then environmental factors act on this vulnerability to trigger the disorder.

As for the environmental factors involved, more and more research is pointing to stress, either during pregnancy or at a later stage of development. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenia by increasing the body’s production of the hormone cortisol.

Research points to several stress-inducing environmental factors that may be involved in schizophrenia, including:

  • Prenatal exposure to a viral infection
  • Low oxygen levels during birth (from prolonged labor or premature birth)
  • Exposure to a virus during infancy
  • Early parental loss or separation
  • Physical or sexual abuse in childhood

In many cases of Schizophrenia where voices are heard, the afflicted individual often finds comfort in the company of their voices, they have conversations, debates, and can often become friends on many levels. This is why affected patients often stop taking the medications which they are prescribed because they either severely subdue the voices or negate them altogether. Why would someone take a pill that forbids them from being in contact with their best friend(s), companion(s), etc?

Truth be told, the voices that most Schizophrenics hear do not tell them to hurt themselves, or others, but rather maintain a running commentary on “their” perception of the patients world at large, sometimes even discussing things on a blow-by-blow basis.

So why not enjoy being Schizophrenic? Constant companionship, never bored, never alone. Sounds like a great around the clock party! Right? Well sure, unless you have a type of Schizophrenia with voices that DO tell you to hurt either yourself, others, of both? Then, not such a party.

I remember one treatment center at which I was doing a segment of my practicum. I was assigned a woman mid 50′s who was diagnosed with Schizophrenia Paranoid Type. She was my first Schizophrenic patient, and aside from what the text books had taught me, I had no idea what to expect in a “real world” scenario.

The woman, whom we shall call Linda, was certain, beyond any doubt whatsoever that I was her son, and that we had performed in innumerable stage shows together, and began reminiscing about each show, one by one, covering our 30 year stage career together. Truly, it was fascinating, and even though she was of no harm to herself or to others, because she was so far removed from reality, she was court ordered to spend the rest of her life in a psychiatric facility. Still, she was quite happy and enjoyed spending time with her voices! Therefore, in summation, I suppose it depends on many factors as to whether an individual can enjoy having Schizophrenia, or see it as a never-ending nightmare pushing them towards anger, resentment, and potentially even revenge on a moment to moment basis.

Photo:  http://sciencenewstoyou.blogspot.co.il

Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

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Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

I have no ego. . . my psychotic episode.

The schizophrenic experiences a stunning barrage of continuous, horrifying symptoms: auditory hallucinations, delusions, ideas of reference, paranoia, etc. The “indescribable severe torture” is unrelenting and can go on except during sometimes restless sleep, at whichtime the symptoms are even active when one becomes conscious at all. This experience is so overwhelming it is beyond the imagination. It cannot be conceived of intellectually. By its very nature it in fact necessitates the concept of religion in order to relate to it at all. This continuous experience of psychotic symptoms can be viewed as “spiritual exercises in perfection”. The effect on the schizophrenic is similar to that of monks when practicing their rituals in monasteries. When these spirited exercises become a lifestyle for the schizophrenic (lasting 8-10 years) with no real evidence given to the schizophrenic that he will ever recover, a fascinating thing happens to the psyche of that schizophrenic—he loses the perspective of “ego”. Ego consists of all his identifying factors in the world: his age, sex, race, religious affiliation or lack thereof, education level, social class, political affiliations, nationality, etc. He begins to see his environment with the eyes of a newborn, without the bias or prejudices, preconditions of his particular circumstances. It can be seen as a sort of continuous baptism by fire, a kind of purification, enabling him to see reality for what it is in actuality, rather than being viewed through the preconceptions of his individual mental, emotional, and behavioural repertoire instilled in him from birth. The schizophrenic in this condition is able in his interior to walk around in someone else’s moccasins with perfection. This can be seen as loving your neighbour as you love yourself, perfectly. I do not believe it is a condition that can be acquired by a “normal” individual by any method, because the horror of the symptoms of schizophrenia are unduplicable by man. (Religious persons would call this condition repentance for all one’s sins, e.g. “perfect repentance”.) ~Source

Recommended readings on the absence of ego in the SchizoAffective (schizophrenic) mind:

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license):
“walking on the razor’s edge in the underground train world : manhattan (2007)” by torbakhopper

 

 

 

 

 

I am not bipolar, I have it.

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I am not Bipolar.  I have Bipolar.  It is not me, and I live with it, but I do not allow it to have me.

I know, this is all quibbling with language, but when we use language to think, to define ourselves and who we are, our words and their meanings become vital.  All to often, people are classified, or classify themselves as “Bipolar”, as if it were a nationality, culture, heritage or something that defines who we are.

I refuse.

Cancer patients don’t call themselves,”Cancerous”, although Cancer decides much of what they do and how they live.  They have Cancer.  Some lie down and allow their lives to go the way they go.  Some fight tooth and nail.  Some ignore it completely, living with it to the end.  There may be an exception somewhere to this, but I haven’t met anyone who said,”I am cancerous.”  They have it.

So, that’s my attitude.  It’s not for everyone, and if you are a “Bipolar” and embrace it, then good for you.  It’s not for me.

How do I fight?

First of all, I take the position that, despite the way my decision making abilities are tied to my emotion and energy and the way that they don’t always make any rational sense, I am the decision maker here.  If I choose to start behaving in a way that is a danger to myself or someone else, I made that choice.  I own it.  It may have been a poor choice, and may have been helped along by having Bipolar, but I made the decision to do X.  No one made me do it but me.

This position has it’s good and bad points.  It allows me to claim control over something, when internally it’s as if I’m mostly an observer.  Society appears to be all in favor of me lying down and claiming,”But, I’m bipolar, and I am out of control.”  I don’t want that.  I am 36 years old.  I’m a father, and if one of my kids says,”I was out of control”, as a parent, I still punish them for acting badly.  I have more control than a 4 or 8 or 12 year old, even if that control extends only to,”This is getting too hard, I need help.”  It allows me to live and be productive and helpful and a positive influence on my friends and family.  It makes me “happy”.

Secondly, I pay attention.  I pay a LOT of attention to what is going on with me internally.  For example:  Right now, I am a tad stressed, but not bad.  I’m on an “upswing” towards a potential hypo or hyper manic phase, but I won’t know how far it will go until I get there, but I know it bears careful attention to my sleeping patterns and closer scrutiny of decision making.  My chest has that odd “excitement/panic/fear/happiness” tingle to it.  My muscles are “sparkly” as I describe it, that sensation of when the adrenalin is about to drop into your system before a competitive race or something.  My thoughts are quick, but not racing, yet.  This all means that my patience is less, my temper is shorter, and I should probably not make any major decisions on my own and without reflection right now.

I know what I need to do, and the decision is mine as to whether to do the things that will allow me to continue to live and be a “good” influence on those around me or not.

Third, I try to focus my energy on things that are intangible , if I have an excess.  If I am manic and not sleeping, I will try to make myself consider philosophical thoughts, and if possible, engage someone in discussion.  Maybe I’ll pay attention to a social issue, and research it until I feel that I can come to a reasonable conclusion.  Maybe I’ll work on some creative writing.  I know that, me being me, I should try to avoid people that might take advantage of my heightened energy and such until it calms down.

I know what you may be thinking,”That’s not what so many other people say/think/write”.  Nope.  It’s not.  This is what works for me and how I think.

Should Bipolar be fought against or embraced?  I think that’s a decision each of us has to make on our own.  To me, embracing bipolar means “riding the roller coaster”, or more accurately, trying to form my life to where the roller coaster takes me.  If it were just me that I was responsible for, this might be a reasonable choice for me, but other people are effected by everything I say and do.  I choose to accept this responsibility to those people I love and care about and try to set aside my own feelings as I can.

Sometimes, it gets to be too much, and I have to tell everyone that I must take a break.  They can react how they like, but sometimes I have to tell the rest of the world that, for a little while, they can all go hang, or they will be without my influence.  This is a complication to the way I deal with life that the average “boss” will not accept or understand, and that’s ok.  I live within the means that I am able to create for myself or have access to.

I am an individual.  I am not Bipolar, I have it.  It does not define me, that is something I choose.  I do not fit into the “bipolar” category.  I don’t think that anyone really does.  Sometimes I am up so high that the world seems distant and beside the point.  Sometimes I’m so low that the world is monster threatening to destroy me.  It is not those times where I can do this stuff on my own.

So, I work on it.  I think through things, to the point that I research and plan things to the point of it being ridiculous at times.  My thought process is slow and complex, as I sort through information and determine the importance of it in order to come to a decision.  The way I do things internally doesn’t work out very well if I choose to follow an unplanned impulse.  I don’t do well in oral conversation, not having time to think about what I’m trying to say or having an easy way to rewind what has been said and make sure that my own impressions are accurate.  It allows me to live, though, and I’m used to it now.

There have been times I was in a hospital because, well, that’s where the rollercoaster had taken me.  I rode the rollercoaster into a dark, seemingly unending depression, or a manic phase dotted with delusions and hallucinations, or worse, into some bizarre mix of hyperactivity and depression, or a complete lack of energy and a nice dose of racing thoughts and grand ideas that, while grand, were impossible.

It has not been an easy road.  I did not get to this point at the flip of a switch or by taking a magic pill.  I have been fighting for 20 years since my first episode.  Therapy, meds of various kinds, and lots and lots of internal work and thought and reflection.

I know that it only takes a small slip to wind up back in a hospital, so I am careful.  If I see that I am on the way “up” or “down” or otherwise entering a realm where my decisions may not be the greatest, I try to act ahead of time, talking to people who will help me to make good decisions and good choices that allow me to continue.  If the help I get in “public” is not enough, then I may seek something more intensive, but I avoid that option if possible.

I am not bipolar.  I have it.  It does not define me.  I do that.  This is my mantra.  Every day that I wake up and lead a relatively normal appearing existence is a success.  Every day that I wake up and simply live, exist, function enough to get things done that make others’ lives easier is a success.  The only failure, for me, is to board the rollercoaster and raise my hands and let life happen to me.

Will it work for you?  That’s up to you.  Do I think anyone else should or should not choose to fight and live as I do?  No.  That’s up to you and your life and situation.  This is mine though.

It’s my life.  Because I am not bipolar.  I am me.  I am an individual.  I can not be defined as bipolar any more than I can define you as bipolar.  Who you are is your choice.  It may be the only choice you get to make, so make the choice that will make you happy and that will allow you to live as well as possible.

But, I define myself, and I am not bipolar.  I have it.

Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties

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Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties

By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 9, 2013

Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception DifficultiesAlthough less severe, patients with bipolar disorder share many of the same cognitive difficulties as patients with schizophrenia — including problems with identifying facial expressions, emotions and facial gender, according to a new study.

Past research has shown that people with schizophrenia have clear cognitive deficits with respect to emotional perception.

Individuals with bipolar share many of the same genetic and environmental risk factors as those with schizophrenia, yet it has been unclear whether or not they share the same functional impairments.

To investigate this further, Jonathan K. Wynn, recently conducted a study which included 30 patients with schizophrenia, 57 with bipolar, and 30 with no history of any mental health problem.

About half of the participants with bipolar were on antipsychoticmedication during the study. Wynn showed the participants pictures of faces displaying emotions of fear, sadness, happiness, anger, or disgust.

He then had had them look at neutral facial expressions. The participants were instructed to identify the emotion on the first experiment and the gender of the face on the second experiment.

The patients with schizophrenia had the hardest time correctly identifying the facial expressions. The participants with bipolar identified the emotions more accurately, but took much longer to do so. And when they did, their scores were still much lower than the control group’s results.

When Wynn evaluated gender recognition abilities, he found again that both bipolar and schizophrenic patients had problems recognizing facial gender. These results were similar for both the bipolar patients who were taking medication and those who were not.

“Schizophrenia patients show deficits at multiple stages of facial affect processing whereas the deficits in bipolar disorder seem to be less severe and appear at the later stage of affect decoding,” said Wynn.

Despite those differences, the study clearly shows that people with bipolar can face challenges in social settings due to delays and impairments in cognitive processing.

Source:  Psychological Medicine

APA Reference
Pedersen, T. (2013). Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 24, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2013/02/09/bipolar-schizophrenia-share-similar-emotional-perception-difficulties/51409.html

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Bipolar

My work as a psychologist

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Therapy has for most people been associated with something mystical. Before I started with psychology myself, I also had my mental images of it, and knew about the standard Freudian couch where you simply said whatever you wanted. I`ve heard about Freud, and knew you probably had to talk about your childhood, but had no idea how a typical therapist or patient actually looked.

F4737867504973e546f5319541a4be1dbor people who haven`t been in therapy, it is often still a mystery. A lot of my friend have asked me, isn`t it hard to hear about so many horrible things, every day? But it’s basically what we all do, every day, anyway. We see films, listen to our friends, read books and watch news about what`s going on. Of course, we don´t have the “obligation” to do something about that, so people might feel that it`s different, but I promise you, a therapist is not more than a personal trainer cheering the clients on. We always stand by our patients sides when something needs to be done or untangled.

Even if I am a therapist, I still love to go to therapy or supervision myself. I don`t respond to the words, but simply to the fact that I talk with a human being about myself. It’s good to have someone there, who just say “it truly sounds like you had a rough time”.

What do you talk about in therapy?
This might still be a bit vague. You might think: Well, that`s fine: But what do you exactly DO in those 45 minutes? To make it more concrete, I will try to write a bit more of what can be done in therapy. Since we can`t talk about patients, I must underline that this is just a general picture, and referrers to no specific client of mine. Of course there will be variations in how we work and approach problems, but I always have some basics that I live by: Respect, curiosity and an attitude of “everything is possible”. I truly believe that, no matter how far someone has fallen, with motivation and hard work, nothing can´t be done. People come to therapy for all kinds of reasons

 

My day at work

A typical morning for me is getting to work, looking through my calendar and appointments or maybe attending a meeting if its monday or Wednesday. Normally I have about four sessions every day, with people who have a variety of diagnosis. If we have our first meeting, I have to go through some standard questions, but mostly I try to get a description of the problem as they see it. Sometime I also give them some surveys that have to be filled out before the next session, but personally I prefer to not fbcd7b34c340acf7f3a4f2773445698fuse too much time on those, since I think people have a variety of problems people might get a bit annoyed if this is the only focus. I also go through why they have to answer them: So that we can choose a treatment that fits people who generally score the same on those surveys. And of course, if they have a diagnosis that might require medications, I can`t ignore that.

world

the best thing we can do is help each other

For very depressed, bipolar people, AD/HD or people in a psychosis, conversations might not be what we focus on the most in the beginning, it might be we also must talk with the doctor so that we can secure basics like sleep. For some people, collecting energy will be the first thing we do. It’s about saying no to people who drain energy, working with attitudes about how perfect everything must be, or simply working in a schedule where they put in healthy food, physical activities and “alone-time”. Some people worry a lot, and then the goal might be to set up experiments where those worries are put to the test. For example, people with panic attacks, might worry about fainting in public, and after a while they start to avoid situations that they feel are dangerous. An example that I actually saw on television, was a woman afraid of hurting kids if she had a knife in her hand.After a while, she stopped using knives, and even made sure to lock them securely in. She also developed a fear where she worried she might accidentally kill someone by not paying not attention while driving. After a while she simply stopped driving, because she didn`t want to take any risks. The therapy for her was rather concrete: She had to expose herself to what she feared, like being in the area where kids could be WHILE she carried a knife, and drive a car where people could potentially be, without turning back to check if she had run over people.

Using eye movements to reduce fear

emdr

I use EMDR a lot for helping trauma-victims

I mostly work with traumatized people and people with personality disorders. I usually follow a model where I first focus on collecting energy, before we work with specific traumas that give them flashbacks, nightmares and disrupt them in their daily lives (can`t relax, must always be on “guard”). I use EMDR for this work, which is basically using eye movements while they think about trauma. I ask them to bring forward a memory which scare them, and to think about the part the worst part. Then they keep that picture in their mind’s eye, while following specific movements I do with my fingers. I monitor their discomfort on a scale from 1-10, where 10 is the worst discomfort they have ever felt, and 0 is completely calm, and keep doing the finger movement until they feel calm. I will write more about EMDR later, but it the main point is that afterwards, it`s easier to live with what happened. People have described it as “earlier I lived IN it, now it feels like it`s behind me”.

How to say goodbye
The last “face” is to talk about ending the therapy. We go through the work we have done, and talk about how it will be to say goodbye. This is important, because being “left” is something a lot struggle with. I must make sure that people don’t feel abandoned, that they can take with them some part of what they learnt, inside their goodbyehearts. I have also been in therapy, and when I feel especially low, I can hear her voice in my head saying: “Take care of yourself, dear”. I say this to my clients: If I can be with you in just one tiny part, I will gladly be there, and allow them to contact me later, if they need to. It’s just a way of saying that goodbye is just “now you can continue on your own. I wish I could walk every step of the journey with you, and in my heart, I do”.

A lot of my jobs is actually about respect and being there. Far too many think they aren`t good enough. It doesn`t matter how many times they have been told or have read that everyone has worth, and so do they, it still FEELS different. Sometimes its all about stating the obvious; I see how kind-hearted they are (most people are really wonderful), how hard they try, how much suffering they had to go through, and remind them off this, when they just see what they feel is “bad”. It’s about never leaving, and being stable and sure when they feel giving up is the only option.

I truly care about my job and my clients. When they manage to do something good for themselves, I cheer them on and feel real joy in my chest. Its magic, what I do, and it gives me hope, because no matter how many bad choices, relationships or events that have taken place in a life, it truly is never too late.

Related articles
EMDR therapy: faster relief for overcoming trauma (firefliesofhope.typepad.com)
Therapists: Peddlers of hope and how to choose one (voxxi.com)