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Research - PTSD - special group with DP/DR

08 May 2015 - 04:51 PM

This could be the true definition of "Complex PTSD" which is not an official psychiatric term.

This could be applicable to those of us with a background of long term abuse.



Altered Circuits May Cause ‘Out-Of-Body’ Symptoms in Some People with PTSD
May 01, 2015

Margaret McKinnon, Ph.D.


For some people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), symptoms go beyond the flashbacks, nightmares, sleeplessness, and tense feelings that trouble many. Up to 30 percent of people with PTSD also suffer from symptoms known as depersonalization and de-realization––that is, they experience “out-of-body” episodes or feelings that the world is not real. These disturbances to awareness and consciousness are known as dissociation.

New research now reveals that brain circuits involved in fear processing are wired differently in these people than in others diagnosed with PTSD. The findings, reported in Neuropsychopharmacology, suggest that such patients need different treatment options.

PTSD with dissociation is recognized as a distinct subtype of the disorder. It is most common among people whose PTSD developed after repeated traumas or childhood adversity. Genetic factors can also increase the risk of developing PTSD with dissociation.

Studies have found that reminders of traumatic events trigger different patterns of neural activity in patients with dissociative PTSD than they do in people who have PTSD without dissociation.


In both groups, emotion-regulating brain circuits are thought to be disrupted. Emotional responses are undermodulated (under-regulated, or controlled) by the brain in most people with PTSD, causing them to relive traumatic events and experience hyperarousal symptoms such as being easily startled. In people with the dissociative subtype of PTSD, in contrast, emotional responses are overmodulated (over-regulated) by the brain, leading to emotional detachment and the subtype's characteristic feelings of depersonalization and derealization.

Senior author Ruth Lanius, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Western Ontario led a team of scientists that included two-time (2007 and 2009) NARSAD Young Investigator grantee Margaret McKinnon, Ph.D., of McMaster University in Ontario. The scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare activity in the brains of 49 people with PTSD, 13 of whom had been diagnosed with the dissociative subtype of the disorder. Their study also included 40 people without PTSD.

The researchers focused their analysis on parts of the brain that connect to the amygdala, a small structure deep in the brain that is involved in emotion and fear processing. They examined connections to two parts of the amygdala: the basolateral amygdala, which evaluates sensory information and helps integrate emotions, and the centromedial amygdala, which helps execute fear responses.

They found that in the brains of patients with the dissociative subtype of PTSD, the amygdala was more strongly connected to brain regions involved in consciousness, awareness, emotional regulation, and proprioception (the sense of body position) than it was in PTSD patients without the dissociative subtype. The researchers say that patients' dissociative symptoms may be directly related to these alterations in the brain's functional circuitry.

So again, it may be appropriate to move DP/DR related to childhood trauma to the Anxiety Disorders under
PTSD - dissociative subtype.

Makes sense to me.  More research to be done.

Link Re: EMDR Therapy -- video, discussion, current ,,,

19 November 2014 - 07:13 PM



It seems that EMDR is most effective for classic/specific PTSD -- that is those who have experienced one or more life-threatening experiences.  It encourages expression of emotions.


I don't quite know how this would work on DP/DR.  But some may benefit.  There's a video.

I'm not a great fan of Dr. Amen who has a larger part in this video.  But, whatever works.  Some good info.

"Feeling of Presense" created in Mentally Health Individuals. Altered State that could help DP/DR understanding.

13 November 2014 - 02:48 PM

NO WE DO NOT HAVE SCHIZOPHRENIA -- Mentally Healthy Individuals are made to feel this sensation of the presense of another.  It does not linger.  A symptom in schizophrenia and in extreme solitary situations.

This is quite an astonishing development.  This perceptual distortion was first described by Karl Jaspers (psychiatrist, philosopher, scholar of religious studies) about 100 years ago in speaking with patients with schizophrenia.

It deals with feeling the presense of another being nearby -- a hallucination in those who are ill (and is generally frightening).  But this is also experienced by individuals who have been in extreme solitary conditions -- climbing a mountain alone.

This is a neurological glitch in the mind of an individual with schizophrenia, but it can be created in MENTALLY HEALTHY individuals.  The result with them is not permanent.

Brief video: and link to article:

No clue why my videos stay as a link and not an image.



Link to article in Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish" -- "Lab Grown Ghosts"




Feeling of Presence, or FoP, is the disconcerting notion that someone else is hovering nearby, walking alongside you or even touching you. It’s the stuff of ghost stories, but also a real symptom of several neurologic conditions, including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists know so little about the underlying causes of FoP that long-term treatments and cures remain illusive.

Now, researchers are chipping away at the neurobiology behind that uncanny feeling. In a paper published November 6 in Current Biology, a team of scientists described how they used a custom-built robot to induce an eerie Feeling of Presence in healthy participants. Their findings confirm that sensorimotor conflict, a neurologic imbalance between what the mind perceives and what the body feels, lies at the root of some FoP illusions.


Neurobiology of perception, Self, perceptual distortions.  There is research into this and further understanding of this can lead ... WILL lead ... to understanding DP/DR.


Blood Test For Depression in Adults

18 September 2014 - 07:48 PM



Depression affects nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults each year, but the delay between the start of symptoms and diagnosis can range from two months to 40 months, the study authors pointed out.
"The longer this delay is, the harder it is on the patient, their family and environment," said lead researcher Eva Redei, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences and physiology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
"Additionally, if a patient is not able or willing to communicate with the doctor, the diagnosis is difficult to make," she said. "If the blood test is positive, that would alert the doctor."


Progress.  Diagnosis strictly by medical means.  Better intervention, treatment, outcome.


"It's as accurate as current methods, but can also confirm recovery, researchers contend."
And treatment can be psychotherapy, meds -- a holistic approach.

Animals with Mental Illness - What They Can Teach Us

21 June 2014 - 08:20 PM

I am always astounded by similarities between humans and some of the higher mammals.  Have a look at a recent article on a Bonobo that was abused that later got better with the help of a supportive group of other Bonobos, a psychitrist and some Paxil and Valium!

This is fodder for thought.  It illustrates my belief that we are complex animals, fueled by instincts.  That damage can be done and that it can be repaired using many different tools -- a holistic approach.  Learn something new every MINUTE.


This also makes me love animals more.

Link to article in the The Atlantic


Brian the Mentally Ill Bonobo, and How He Healed

By Alexis C. Madrigal

Things were not looking good for Brian. He'd been kept from the affection of his mother—and all other women—and raised alone by his father, who sexually traumatized him. Normal social interactions were impossible for him. He couldn't eat in front of others and required a series of repeated, OCD-like rituals before he'd take food. He was scared of any new thing, and when he got stressed, he'd just curl up into the fetal position and scream.

He also hurt himself over and over, tearing off his own fingernails and intentionally cutting his genitals. He was socially outcast, left to clap his hands, spin in circles, and stare blankly at walls by himself.


Still, some other bonobos were kind to him. Kitty, a 49-year-old blind female, and Lody, a 27-year-old male, spent time with Brian. When he panicked, Lody sometimes led him by the hand to their playpen at the Milwaukee County Zoo.

After six weeks, the zookeepers knew they had to do something. They called Harry Prosen, who was the chair of the psychiatry department at the Medical College of Wisconsin, who took Brian on as his first non-human patient.


Brian's story is one of many that Laurel Braitman tells in her new book, Animal Madness: How anxious dogs, compulsive parrots, and elephants in recovery help us understand ourselves, a survey of mental illness in animals and its relationship to our own problems.

The individual stories in the book are compelling, and they lead towards an interesting conclusion about the way we project our own attributes onto other species. How much should we anthropomorphize animals like our pets or apes like Brian? As much as it helps us help them. If treating Brian like a human psychiatric patient helped Prosen treat the suffering animal, then it makes sense to project that level of humanness onto the creature.

Prosen began with a full psychiatric history of Brian. He'd been born at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University in Atlanta. Bonobos are famously, polymorphously, perversely sexual—but they don't generally engage in sexual violence. And yet Brian's father, who had suffered his own traumas as a research animal, sodomized Brian for years. During his seven years at Yerkes, Brian started to stick his own hand into his rectum, causing bleeding and—over time—thickening of the tissue there. It was a horrifying situation.


In 1997, when Brian arrived, the bonobo crew at the Milwaukee County Zoo, which was the largest captive troop in the United States, was unusually stable and nice, seemingly due to the calming presence of two apes, Maringa, and Brian's friend, Lody. The troop had already helped other animals recover from mental disturbances, which is one reason that Brian had been sent there. But he seemed beyond natural recovery.


Prosen first prescribed Paxil, to help with Brian's anxiety, occasionally supplemented by Valium, on the bad days. "The beauty of the drug therapy," Prosen told Braitman, "was that the other bonobos could start to see him for who he really was, which was really a cool little dude."

Meanwhile, Prosen and the zookeeping staff began Brian's therapy, focusing on making changes to their own behavior and his environment. They spoke quietly and moved slowly and consistently. No sudden movements or loud noises. They made each of his days exactly the same, and only introduced new things slowly and deliberately. They had Brian hang out with apes who were younger than him, so that he could learn what he'd never been taught as a kid: play.


"Interacting with adult females, to whom he’d had no exposure as a youngster, caused him all sorts of anxiety," Braitman writes. "This was confusing to the rest of the troop because Brian looked like an eight- or nine-year-old young male, but developmentally he acted like a five- or six-year-old."


By 2001, after four hard years of therapy and improvement, Brian had begun to integrate into the Milwaukee troop. The zookeepers saw it as significant that a new mother let him touch her 10-day-old baby, and over the the next few years, his behavior became more and more socially aware. They peg his 16th birthday, in 2006, as the time when he "started acting his age." He loves carrying around the babies in the troop, and even managed to have his own children. And, as his keeper Barbara Bell recalled, he went off Paxil at some point, after he took to sharing it (!) with the other apes.


As the years went by, Lody grew old and frail. Brian began to take on the older male's leadership role within the troop. And when Lody died in 2012, Brian became one of the group leaders. It was a remarkable transformation for a sick, disturbed young ape to have made.



Prosen, for his part, attributes Brian's growth to Lody and Kitty, the blind female who helped him out in his earliest, darkest period. While his therapy and the pharmaceuticals did some good, it was the community of zookeepers and animals working together that seems to have gotten him on the path to social integration. "Empathy knows no country, no species, is universal and has always been available,” Prosen said. “I discovered after arriving at the zoo that it belonged to the bonobos long before us.”


For Braitman, though, she does see something special in the way humans look out for other animals. So many of the traits that we thought distinguished our species have been found in other creatures, but we stand out among the animals for how we care for other species. Certainly not at all times or in all industries, but "humans are ridiculously special when it comes to our desire to intervene and heal the distress in many other species, especially our pets," Braitman told me. "I met people who'd turned their houses into rabbit sanctuaries and their ponds into otter rehab habitats."

We might not be the only tool-using mammals or the only species with a sense of self, but "the great lengths we go to help our animals is one thing that still sets us apart," she said.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlant...bonobo-and-how- he-healed/372596/

Copyright © 2014 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

I am also very interested in a the new book mentioned here ...  "Animal Madness"