Links for Keyword: Schizophrenia

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By Scott O. Lilienfeld and Hal Arkowitz Imagine an eight-year-old boy whom we will call Eric. He is irritable and talks incessantly. Unable to sit still and concentrate, he does poorly at school. Nevertheless, he claims to be one of the smartest kids in the world and blames his poor academic performance on his “horrible” teachers. There are periods when his mood changes abruptly from euphoria to depression and then swings back again. Eric's symptoms qualify him for a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, which is characterized by episodes of full-blown mania or a less severe form called hypomania. These moods usually alternate with periods of depression [see box on opposite page]. Until about 1980 most mental health professionals believed that bipolar disorder did not occur in children. Although a few still hold this view, the general opinion of the psychiatric community has drastically shifted over the past 30 years, a period in which diagnoses of the disorder in kids have skyrocketed. In a study published in 2007 psychiatrist Carmen Moreno, then at Gregorio Marañón University General Hospital in Madrid, and her colleagues found a 40-fold increase between 1994 and 2003 in the number of visits to a psychiatrist in which a patient younger than 19 was given this diagnosis. By 2003, the researchers reported, the number of office visits resulting in a bipolar diagnosis in these youths had risen from 25 per 100,000 people to 1,003 per 100,000 people, a rate almost as high as that for adults. Such data have sparked widespread concern that the condition is egregiously overdiagnosed, perhaps contributing to the use of ineffective and even harmful medical treatments. In this column, we discuss controversies regarding the overdiagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and recent attempts to remedy this situation. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 17001 - Posted: 07.05.2012

By Laura Sanders New details about how some drugs for schizophrenia accumulate in the brain may help explain why patients often must wait for weeks for the medications to work. Because many commonly used antipsychotics such as haloperidol and clozapine quickly latch onto their targets, it would seem that the drugs should bring fast relief. “But there’s always a side story,” says neuroscientist Michael Cousin of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. “There’s another layer of complexity.” Researchers led by Teja Groemer of Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany illuminate this process in the June 7 Neuron by describing how the buildup of certain drugs in the brain may have underappreciated consequences for their effectiveness. The idea that drugs accumulate in the brain isn’t totally new; other scientists have suggested that antipsychotic drugs can pile up in certain places, Groemer says. But most people have assumed such accumulation is inconsequential. Not so, Groemer and his team found. Stockpiled drugs may actually squelch nerve cells’ behavior in a highly selective way by being released only when needed most. Using a proxy compound that could be seen with a microscope (because making the drugs themselves visible would have changed their behavior), the researchers watched the chemical build up in small pockets, called synaptic vesicles, inside nerve cells that were growing in a dish. © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 16884 - Posted: 06.07.2012

By Kay Lazar, Globe Staff Federal regulators announced a multi-year initiative Wednesday to slash the inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home residents, saying that nearly 40 percent of residents with dementia were receiving the powerful sedatives though they didn’t have a condition that would warrant it. The US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it was aiming to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home residents by 15 percent by the end of this year, through training of nursing home staff and state inspectors to use alternative methods instead of relying on antipsychotics to quell agressive and agitated behavior among people with dementia. Alice Bonner, director of the agency’s nursing home division, said in an interview that the 15 percent reduction is just the first step. “In 2013 we will set another goal,” Bonner said. “At that point, we will be looking at even more significant reductions.” Another agency official said during a conference call with reporters that between July and September of 2010, almost 40 percent of nursing home residents with signs of dementia were receiving antipsychotic drugs even though they had not been diagnosed with a psychosis. The drugs have sometimes-lethal side effects, prompting the US Food and Drug Administration to issue two warnings since 2005 against using them in elderly patients with dementia. © 2012 NY Times Co

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16855 - Posted: 05.31.2012

By Laura Sanders Schizophrenia’s elusive genetic roots may finally be within grasp. A new, wide-ranging effort has uncovered a set of DNA signatures that are shared by people with the disease consistently enough that the set can be used to reliably predict whether someone has the disease. If replicated, the results may point out ways to diagnose schizophrenia and suggest new targets for treatment. By analyzing a battery of 542 genetic variants, researchers could predict who had schizophrenia in a group of European Americans and African Americans. The confirmation of the result in people of varying ancestry suggests that the set of genes truly does detect the core features of the disorder, scientists report online May 15 in Molecular Psychiatry. “Genetic studies in psychiatry tend to produce initial excitement but are then not reproduced in independent populations, which is the most important proof that a finding is solid and real,” says study coauthor Alexander Niculescu of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. Niculescu and his colleagues created their gene panel by assessing a slew of earlier studies on schizophrenia: Data from humans and animals on gene variation and gene behavior all fed into the team’s analysis. If a gene popped out of several different datasets, the reasoning went, it is probably important to schizophrenia. Niculescu compares this method — called convergent functional genomics — to an Internet search: “The more links to a web page, the higher it comes up on your search list.” © Society for Science & the Public 2000 - 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16803 - Posted: 05.16.2012

By John Horgan When I teach history of science at Stevens Institute of Technology, I devote plenty of time to science’s glories, the kinds of achievements that my buddy George Johnson wrote about in The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments (Alfred A. Knopf, 2008). George helps us appreciate what Galileo did with inclined planes, Newton with prisms, Pavlov with dogs, Galvani with frogs, Millikan with oil drops, Faraday with a magnet and coil of wire. (When George demonstrated Faraday’s experiment on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert found the experiment so shocking that he blurted out, “Mother——!”) But I tell my students about science’s missteps, too, to remind them that scientists can be as flawed as the rest of us mortals. In that negative spirit, here are five experiments that I consider to be especially hideous, horrible, immoral—in short, ugly. Walter Freeman and Transorbital Lobotomies In 1949, the Portuguese neurologist Egas Moniz won a Nobel Prize for inventing the lobotomy, a treatment for mental illness that called for inserting a sharp instrument into holes drilled through the skull and destroying tissue in the frontal lobes. By then, physician Walter Freeman Jr., (father of neuroscientist Walter Freeman III, a leading consciousness researcher) had already begun carrying out lobotomies in the United States. In 1941 Freeman lobotomized the unruly, 23-year-old sister of John F. Kennedy; Rosemary Kennedy was so severely disabled after her lobotomy that she required care for the rest of her life. Freeman later invented the transorbital lobotomy, which involved slipping an ice pick past the eyeball, thrusting it through the rear of the eye socket and swishing it back and forth in the brain. © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 16795 - Posted: 05.15.2012

By Ferris Jabr* In the offices of psychiatrists and psychologists across the country you can find a rather hefty tome called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM). The current edition of the DSM, the DSM-IV, is something like a field guide to mental disorders: the book pairs each illness with a checklist of symptoms, just as a naturalist’s guide describes the distinctive physical features of different birds. These lists of symptoms, known as diagnostic criteria, help psychiatrists choose a disorder that most closely matches what they observe in their patients. Every few decades, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) revises the diagnostic criteria and publishes a brand new version of the DSM. The idea is to make the criteria more accurate, drawing on what psychologists and psychiatrists have learned about mental illness since the manual’s last update. In May 2013, the APA plans to publish the fifth and newest edition of the DSM, which it has been preparing for more than 11 years. On its DSM-5 Development website, the APA states that the motivation for the ongoing revisions was an agreement to “expand the scientific basis for psychiatric diagnosis and classification.” The website further states that “over the past two decades, there has been a wealth of new information in neurology, genetics and the behavioral sciences that dramatically expands our understanding of mental illness.” © 2012 Scientific American

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16769 - Posted: 05.09.2012

Daniel Cressey With the official opening of a £5.4-million (US$8.7-million) facility at its UK base on 30 April, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly says it is reaffirming its commitment to neuroscience research at a time when other drug firms are mostly avoiding the field. The site, at Erl Wood in Windlesham, Surrey, will house around 130 scientists working on the early phases of clinical drug development, making it Lilly's second-largest research site worldwide, after the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. Researchers will work on conditions ranging from cancer and diabetes to Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia, says Sarah Chatham, managing director of the centre. The investment contrasts with lay-offs at other pharma companies. Many have turned their attention to acquiring smaller firms to get new drugs, instead of using large in-house research teams. Lilly’s focus on neuroscience is also unusual, with Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca all bailing out of much brain work in recent years (see 'Novartis to shut brain research facility'). The centre was welcomed by UK science minister David Willetts, not least because policy-makers have grown anxious that Britain is no longer perceived as a good place to do medical research. Academics are concerned that their research environment is overburdened with red tape, especially because of what they see as the bureaucratic way the United Kingdom implemented the European Union Clinical Trials Directive in 2004 (see 'UK health research to be rehabilitated'). © 2012 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16742 - Posted: 05.03.2012

Horrific crimes, such as the Anders Breivik case, illustrate the misconceptions the public has about mental illness, a leading expert says. Professor Simon Wessely, of King's College London, said the simplest responses to mass killings were that the perpetrators "must be mad". But he said the way Breivik carried out the killings suggested otherwise. He said the idea a psychiatric diagnosis could help people avoid punishment was wrong too. Writing in the Lancet medical journal, Professor Wessely said putting forward a mental illness defence in the UK could lead a person to spending more time behind bars than less. "The forensic psychiatry system is not a soft or popular option," he added. The psychiatrist also said the Breivik case highlighted another misconception - that outrageous crimes must mean mental illness. "For schizophrenia to explain Breivik's actions, they would have to be the result of delusions." But he added: "The meticulous way in which he planned his attacks does not speak to the disorganisation of schizophrenia." BBC © 2012

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress
Link ID: 16728 - Posted: 04.30.2012

By Brian Vastag So-called atypical antipsychotic drugs have been blockbusters for the drug industry, pulling in $16 billion in 2010. Developed to treat schizophrenia and related disorders, physicians also prescribe these drugs “off label” for bipolar disorder, insomnia, and other problems the drugs are not approved to treat, as Sandra Boodman wrote in the Post on March 12. But a new report finds that psychiatrists have not been given a full picture of these drugs, which include big sellers like Abilify (aripiprazole), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Risperdal (risperidone), and Seroquel (quetiapine). When seeking approval for eight atypical antipsychotic drugs, drug companies performed 24 studies, according to a Food and Drug Administration database. But four of the studies were never published in professional journals — and all four were unflattering for the drug in question. Three of the unpublished studies showed that the new drug did not perform better than a sugar pill. The fourth study showed that while the antipsychotic drug helped patients more than a placebo, older, less expensive drugs helped patients even more. “That’s bad if you’re marketing the drug,” said Erick Turner, the psychiatrist at Oregon Health & Science University who conducted the new analysis, which was published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine . © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16560 - Posted: 03.22.2012

by Peter Aldhous Just as many authors of the new psychiatry "bible" are tied to the drugs industry as those who worked on the previous version, a study has found, despite new transparency rules. The findings raise concerns over the independence of the revamped Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and scheduled for publication in May 2013. For the current rewrite, known as DSM-5, the APA for the first time required authors to declare their financial ties to industry. It also limited the amount they could receive from drug companies to $10,000 a year and their stock holdings to $50,000. "Transparency alone can't mitigate bias," says Lisa Cosgrove of Harvard University, who along with Sheldon Krimsky of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, analysed the financial disclosures of 141 members of the "work groups" drafting the manual. They found that just as many contributors – 57 per cent – had links to industry as were found in a previous study of the authors of DSM-IV and an interim revision, published in 1994 and 2000 respectively. Cosgrove also points out that the $10,000-per-year limit on payments excludes research grants. "Nothing has really changed," she says. What's more, the work groups that had the most members with ties to the pharmaceutical industry were considering illnesses for which drugs are the front-line treatment – and for which proposed changes to diagnostic categories are especially controversial. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16519 - Posted: 03.15.2012

By Sandra G. Boodman, Adriane Fugh-Berman was stunned by the question: Two graduate students who had no symptoms of mental illness wondered if she thought they should take a powerful schizophrenia drug each had been prescribed to treat insomnia. “It’s a total outrage,” said Fugh-Berman, a physician who is an associate professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University. “These kids needed some basic sleep [advice], like reducing their intake of caffeine and alcohol, not a highly sedating drug.” Those Georgetown students exemplify a trend that alarms medical experts, policymakers and patient advocates: the skyrocketing increase in the off-label use of an expensive class of drugs called atypical antipsychotics. Until the past decade these 11 drugs, most approved in the 1990s, had been reserved for the approximately 3 percent of Americans with the most disabling mental illnesses, chiefly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder; more recently a few have been approved to treat severe depression. But these days atypical antipsychotics — the most popular are Seroquel, Zyprexa and Abilify — are being prescribed by psychiatrists and primary-care doctors to treat a panoply of conditions for which they have not been approved, including anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, sleep difficulties, behavioral problems in toddlers and dementia. These new drugs account for more than 90 percent of the market and have eclipsed an older generation of antipsychotics. Two recent reports have found that youths in foster care, some less than a year old, are taking more psychotropic drugs than other children, including those with the severest forms of mental illness. © 1996-2012 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 16504 - Posted: 03.13.2012

A cheap antibiotic normally prescribed to teenagers for acne is to be tested as a treatment to alleviate the symptoms of psychosis in patients with schizophrenia, in a trial that could advance scientific understanding of the causes of mental illness. The National Institute for Health Research is funding a £1.9m trial of minocycline, which will begin recruiting patients in the UK next month. The research follows case reports from Japan in which the drug was prescribed to patients with schizophrenia who had infections and led to dramatic improvements in their psychotic symptoms. The chance observation caused researchers to test the drug in patients with schizophrenia around the world. Trials in Israel, Pakistan and Brazil have shown significant improvement in patients treated with the drug. Scientists believe that schizophrenia and other mental illnesses including depression and Alzheimer's disease may result from inflammatory processes in the brain. Minocycline has anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects which they believe could account for the positive findings. Details of the trial were presented to the independent Schizophrenia Commission by Bill Deakin, professor of psychiatry at the University of Manchester, who is the lead investigator. The 12-member commission, set up by the mental health charity Rethink, is looking into the treatment and care of people with schizophrenia, and is due to report in the summer. The first account of minocycline's effects appeared in 2007 when a 23-year-old Japanese man was admitted to hospital suffering from persecutory delusions and paranoid ideas. He had no previous psychiatric history but became agitated and suffered auditory hallucinations, anxiety and insomnia. © independent.co.uk

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16468 - Posted: 03.03.2012

Erika Check Hayden The intersection of Mission and Sixth streets in San Francisco's South of Market neighbourhood is considered one of the most crime-riddled in the city. Liquor shops, adult bookshops and single-resident-occupancy hotels inhabit most of the buildings. Homeless people sit on the pavements or shuffle by, many of them showing symptoms of mental illness or drug abuse. Yet behind the walls of an unassuming outpatient psychiatric clinic, researchers are conducting experiments that they believe could fundamentally change the landscape of psychiatric care. Inside the San Francisco Citywide and Community Focus Center, in a room about the size of a large walk-in wardrobe, two people wearing headphones sit staring at computer screens. Despite the hubbub — the din of a nearby group session, clients milling in the hallway and the internal turmoil caused by their mental disorders — they are mesmerized by the games on the screens. Both have schizophrenia, and they are taking part in a study that aims to determine whether a controversial method of treatment can succeed where modern medicine has largely failed. The man behind the games is Michael Merzenich, an emeritus professor at the University of California, San Francisco, and a pioneering advocate for neuroplasticity — the notion that the brain can reshape and remodel its neural pathways even into adulthood. He has gained notoriety for his unabashed promotion of video games designed to tap into that plasticity. These have been marketed to treat everything from reading difficulties in children to driving impairment in elderly people. His zeal has, at times, attracted criticism. There is little solid evidence, say critics, that brain training makes a long-lasting difference in the lives of either ill or healthy people. © 2012 Nature Publishing Group

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 17: Learning and Memory
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16463 - Posted: 03.01.2012

By BRIDGET O'SHEA The sounds of chaos bounce off the dim yellow walls. Everywhere there are prisoners wearing orange, red and khaki jumpsuits. An officer barks out orders as a thin woman tries to sleep on a hard bench in a holding cell. This is a harsh scene of daily life inside what has become the state’s largest de facto mental institution: the Cook County Jail. About 11,000 prisoners, a mix of suspects awaiting trial and those convicted of minor crimes, are housed at the jail at any one time, which is like stuffing the population of Palos Heights into an eight-block area on Chicago’s South Side. The Cook County sheriff, Tom Dart, estimated that about 2,000 of them suffer from some form of serious mental illness, far more than at the big state-owned Elgin Mental Health Center, which has 582 beds. Mr. Dart said the system “is so screwed up that I’ve become the largest mental health provider in the state of Illinois.” The situation is about to get worse, according to Mr. Dart and other criminal justice experts. The city plans to shut down 6 of its 12 mental health centers by the end of April, to save an estimated $2 million, potentially leaving many patients without adequate treatment — some of them likely to engage in conduct that will lead to arrests. “It will definitely have a negative impact on jail populations,” said Mr. Dart, who noted that the number of people coming into the jail with mental health problems was already increasing. “It will have direct consequences for us in my general jail population and some of the problems I have here, because a lot of the people with these issues act out more, as you would expect, so that’s a direct consequence.” © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16402 - Posted: 02.20.2012

by Linda Geddes Schizophrenia could be a profound form of jetlag in which the brain's central clock runs out of kilter with peripheral clocks around the rest of the body. People with the illness often complain of sleeping difficulties, and last month a study of 20 people with schizophrenia confirmed that sleep disruption is common and not down to their medication or lifestyle (British Journal of Psychiatry), DOI: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.096321). Now we may be closer to understanding why: a genetic mutation that triggers schizophrenia-like symptoms in mice also appears to disrupt their circadian rhythm or body clock. Russell Foster at the University of Oxford and his colleagues had been puzzling over the link between sleep disturbances and mental illness. So they investigated circadian patterns in mice with a defect in the SNAP25 gene, often used as an animal model to study the illness. SNAP25 has also been associated with schizophrenia in humans. When the mice were kept under a schedule of 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness, they were active when you would normally expect mice to be sleeping, suggesting that their circadian rhythms were disrupted. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 16279 - Posted: 01.21.2012

By NICHOLAS BAKALAR A new study has found that among immigrants, younger age at the time of migration predicts a higher incidence of psychotic disorders. The study, published in December in The American Journal of Psychiatry, was conducted from 1997 to 2005 in The Hague, where there are detailed records on almost everyone ages 15 to 54 who has made contact with the health care system for a possible psychotic disorder. The researchers found 273 immigrants, 119 second-generation citizens and 226 Dutch citizens who fit the criteria. In four ethnic groups — people from Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, Turkey and Morocco — the risk of psychosis was most elevated among those who immigrated before age 4. There was no association of psychosis with age among immigrants from Western countries. The researchers, led by Dr. Wim Veling of the Parnassia Psychiatric Institute in The Hague, investigated various possible explanations — that social factors may be involved, that people may migrate because they are prone to psychosis, that a decision to migrate is influenced by the early appearance of psychosis, among many others. But the correlation between younger age of migration and the development of psychosis persisted. “We don’t know the reason,” said Dr. Ezra Susser, the senior author and a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, “but it might be related to early social context, which we know has an important influence on later health and mental health.” © 2012 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16255 - Posted: 01.14.2012

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. New research has discovered that people with schizophrenia have certain brain cells where their DNA stays too tightly wound. When DNA is too tightly wound, it can stop other genes from expressing themselves in their normal pattern. The new findings suggest that drugs already in development for other diseases might eventually offer hope as a treatment for schizophrenia and related conditions in the elderly. The research shows the deficit is especially pronounced in younger people. This suggests that treatment might be most effective early on at minimizing or even reversing symptoms of schizophrenia Schizophrenia is a usually-serious mental disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and emotional difficulties, among other problems. “We’re excited by the findings,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Elizabeth Thomas, a neuroscientist who led the study, “and there’s a tie to other drug development work, which could mean a faster track to clinical trials to exploit what we’ve found.” Working with lead author Bin Tang, a postdoctoral fellow in her lab, and Brian Dean, an Australian colleague at the University of Melbourne, Thomas obtained post-mortem brain samples from schizophrenic and healthy brains held at medical ”Brain Banks” in the United States and Australia. The brains come from either patients who themselves agreed to donate some or all of their bodies for scientific research after death, or from patients whose families agreed to such donations. © 1992-2012 Psych Central.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 7: Life-Span Development of the Brain and Behavior
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 13: Memory, Learning, and Development
Link ID: 16203 - Posted: 01.03.2012

By BARRON H. LERNER, M.D. Most of us recall lobotomies as they were depicted in the movie “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”— horrifying operations inappropriately used to control mentally ill patients. But in the 1950s, surgeons also used them to treat severe pain from cancer and other diseases. Now a Yale researcher has uncovered surprising new evidence of a famous patient who apparently received a lobotomy for cancer pain during that time: Eva Perón, the first lady of Argentina, who was known as Evita. The story is an interesting, sad footnote in the history not only of lobotomy, but of pain control. The nature of Perón’s illness was initially shrouded in silence. Her doctors diagnosed advanced cervical cancer in August 1951, but as was common at the time, the patient was told only that she had a uterine problem. According to the biographers Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro, secrecy was so paramount that an American specialist, Dr. George Pack, performed Perón’s cancer operation without her or the public ever knowing. He entered the operating suite after she was under anesthesia. Despite surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, Perón gradually worsened, dying in late July 1952 at age 33. Only then was it revealed that she had died of cervical cancer, although details of her treatment, including Dr. Pack’s involvement, remained concealed. In a 1972 biography, Erminda Duarte, Perón’s sister, claimed she had suffered intense pain and distress. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16173 - Posted: 12.20.2011

Allen Frances, contributor "WE DON'T see things as they are, we see things as we are." This simple Talmudic saying summarises the essence of epistemology. Psychiatric disorders provide a striking example: they are not real things in nature, but labels we create to describe troubling aspects of human experience. Sometimes labels take on a life of their own. People mistakenly think that naming a psychiatric problem shapes it into a simple disease with a reductionist, biological explanation. Labelling mental disorders is useful in providing a common language and guide to treatment. But psychiatric disorders are remarkably heterogeneous and overlapping in their presentations and complex in their causation. The human brain rarely reveals its secrets in simple answers. All of which brings us to the wonderful book, American Madness, an artful analysis of the rise and fall of the label "dementia praecox" from its promising birth in 1896 to its unlamented death in 1927. Introduced by the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin, the term was used to describe an early onset of psychotic symptoms that presaged a tragic downhill course and poor outcome - as distinct from manic depressive illness, which has a more variable age of onset, cyclical course, and greater chance for a good outcome. The label dementia praecox spread like wildfire and was briefly the darling of psychiatry until it lost out to schizophrenia, a broader concept that included milder and earlier cases and did not necessarily imply such a bleak future or bad outcome. © Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd.

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16151 - Posted: 12.15.2011

By BENEDICT CAREY ATHENS, Ohio — She was gone for good, and no amount of meditation could resolve the grief, even out here in the deep quiet of the woods. “When I began to see the delusions in the context of things that were happening in my real life, they finally made some sense," Milt Greek said. "And understanding the story of my psychosis helped me see what I needed to stay well.” Milt Greek pushed to his feet. It was Mother’s Day 2006, not long after his mother’s funeral, and he headed back home knowing that he needed help. A change in the medication for his schizophrenia, for sure. A change in focus, too; time with his family, to forget himself. And, oh yes, he had to act on an urge expressed in his psychotic delusions: to save the world. So after cleaning the yard around his house — a big job, a gift to his wife — in the coming days he sat down and wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, supporting a noise-pollution ordinance. Small things, maybe, but Mr. Greek has learned to live with his diagnosis in part by understanding and acting on its underlying messages, and along the way has built something exceptional: a full life, complete with a family and a career. He is one of a small number of successful people with a severe psychiatric diagnosis who have chosen to tell their story publicly. In doing so, they are contributing to a deeper understanding of mental illness — and setting an example that can help others recover. © 2011 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BP7e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 16081 - Posted: 11.26.2011