An examination of changing attitudes towards mental health and illness throughout history with an analysis of the scientific and societal factors which have contributed to these alterations in understanding and practice Presented by Alex Aulakh, Adam Boggon and Laura Burns (2nd year medical students at University of St Andrews) at a workshop at Medsin Global Health Conference 2011 in Cambridge.
almost 9 years ago
Cohesive and straightforward presentation covering two less common but life threatening ECG changes: Wellen's sign and Widow maker sign. I hope you enjoy it!
about 6 years ago
A medical student reflects on exams: the pressure to perform, and the temptation to cheat (original post here) New and naive the journey begins, Forsaking folly for study and service, To "make the world a better place", To "alleviate suffering" to "give hope". The public trust, respect, maybe even revere us. They offer us their arms for a third attempt, They bleed and bruise so we can learn, Enduring pain for our practice. They think our vocation "the noblest of professions". Their trust they freely offer, We snatch it, thinking ourselves worthy, Considering ourselves men of noble blood, Trustworthy, moral and virtuous beings. Hours, days, years invested in books, Given in worship to the acquisition of knowledge. On wards we arrive in dress rehearsal, Regurgitating information at the whim of the gods. We desire their glory and brilliance, Panting for success, respect, power, control, Nothing terrifies more than failure, Exams loom incessantly... Offers of assistance entice. Tantalising tip-offs tempt, Some sharpen skills whilst others sully their souls. Time to swear the Hypocrite's Oath.
almost 7 years ago
By Genevieve Yates One reason why I chose to do medicine was that I didn’t always trust doctors – another being access to an endless supply of jelly beans. My mistrust stemmed from my family’s unfortunate collection of medical misadventures: Grandpa’s misdiagnosed and ultimately fatal cryptococcal meningitis, my brother’s missed L4/L5 fracture, Dad’s iatrogenic brachial plexus injury and the stuffing-up of my radius and ulna fractures, to name a few. I had this naïve idea that my becoming a doctor would allow me to be more in charge of the health of myself and my family. When I discovered that doctors were actively discouraged from treating themselves, their loved ones and their mothers-in-law, and that a medical degree did not come with a lifetime supply of free jelly beans, I felt cheated. I got over the jelly bean disappointment quickly – after all, the allure of artificially coloured and flavoured gelatinous sugar lumps was far less strong at age 25 than it was at age 5 – but the Medical Board’s position regarding self-treatment took a lot longer to swallow. Over the years I’ve come to understand why guidelines exist regarding treating oneself and one’s family, as well as close colleagues, staff and friends. Lack of objectivity is not the only problem. Often these types of consults occur in informal settings and do not involve adequate history taking, examination or note-making. They can start innocently enough but have the potential to run into serious ethical and legal minefields. I’ve come to realise that, like having an affair with your boss or lending your unreliable friend thousands of dollars to buy a car, treating family, friends and staff is a pitfall best avoided. Although we’ve all heard that “A physician who heals himself has an idiot for a doctor and a fool for a patient”, large numbers of us still self-treat. I recently conducted a self-care session with about thirty very experienced GP supervisors whose average age was around fifty. When asked for a show of hands as to how many had his/her own doctor, about half the group confidently raised their hands. I then asked these to lower their hands if their nominated doctor was a spouse, parent, practice partner or themselves. At least half the hands went down. When asked if they’d seek medical attention if they were significantly unwell, several of the remainder said, “I don’t get sick,” and one said, “Of course I’d see a doctor – I’d look in the mirror.” Us girls are a bit more likely to seek medical assistance than the blokes (after all, it is pretty difficult to do your own PAP smear – believe me, I’ve tried), but neither gender group can be held up as a shining example of responsible, compliant patients. It seems very much a case of “Do as I say, not do as I do”. I wonder how much of this is due to the rigorous “breed ’em tough” campaigns we’ve been endured from the earliest days of our medical careers. I recall when one of my fellow interns asked to finish her DEM shift twenty minutes early so that she could go to the doctor. Her supervising senior registrar refused her request and told her, “Routine appointments need to be made outside shift hours. If you are sick enough to be off work, you should be here as a patient.” My friend explained that this was neither routine, nor a life-threatening emergency, but that she thought she had a urinary tract infection. She was instructed to cancel her appointment, dipstick her own urine, take some antibiotics out of the DEM supply cupboard and get back to work. “You’re a doctor now; get your priorities right and start acting like one” was the parting message. Through my work in medical education, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to several groups of junior doctors about self-care issues and the reasons for imposing boundaries on whom they treat, hopefully encouraging to them to establish good habits while they are young and impressionable. I try to practise what I preach: I see my doctor semi-regularly and have a I’d-like-to-help-you-but-I’m-not-in-a-position-to-do-so mantra down pat. I’ve used this speech many times to my advantage, such as when I’ve been asked to look at great-aunt Betty’s ulcerated toe at the family Christmas get-together, and to write a medical certificate and antibiotic script for a whingey boyfriend with a man-cold. The message is usually understood but the reasons behind it aren’t always so. My niece once announced knowledgably, “Doctors don’t treat family because it’s too hard to make them pay the proper fee.” This young lady wants to be a doctor when she grows up, but must have different reasons than I did at her age. She doesn’t even like jelly beans! Genevieve Yates is an Australian GP, medical educator, medico-legal presenter and writer. You can read more of her work at http://genevieveyates.com/
Dr Genevieve Yates
about 6 years ago
If I had a penny, okay a pound, for every time a patient responded to the request to practice examining them said, 'Well, we all gotta learn', I would be a very rich medical student. (I'd like to add that this is said in a strong West-country accent, just so that you feel like you're really there.) I'm sure that the majority of my colleagues would agree. Today has been no different except for the fact that one of the patients I met described themselves as a 'whistleblower'. It was like my subconscious slapping me around the face and telling me to stop procrastinating. Why, you ask? Well I'm starting to get a little nervous actually, in exactly two weeks I'll be presenting my thoughts on whistleblowing (you might remember me going on about this during dissertation season) to a load of academics and healthcare professionals. My sphincters loosen up at the thought of it* Within five minutes of meeting this patient, they had imparted their wise words on me 'Chantal, just remember when you become a doctor - if you're absolutely sure that you're right about something then never be afraid to speak up about it.' Like music to my ears. Well, until he told me that he was convinced that 'cannabis cures all ills.' Each to their own. *I sincerely apologise, poor medic joke. Yuck. Written by Chantal Cox-George, 3rd Year Med Student at University of Bristol
about 6 years ago
As part as my paediatrics attachment, I was having peripheral nervous system bed side teaching. We had spoken over the examination and I was first up to practice on 4 year old Jake. One consultant and 3 other medical students looked on as I worked my way through the examination. My general inspection and impression of the child got approving nods from my colleagues. Phew! Next up was actual exam “two people can’t resist…” I recalled in my head. First up, tone. I assessed this correctly and nothing had gone majorly wrong yet. Relief. Power was next. “ok, so put out your arms up like this and resist me…ok, no, not like that..erm..oh god…I don’t know how to explain it”. My colleagues looked on. The consultant chipped in “tell him to touch his shoulders”. It did the trick and I was able to get through the rest of the examination without too many hiccups. When we had finished, in classic med school fashion I had to reflect on what had just happened and then say something I did good and something I could have done better. My good thing was “I got through it..I mean I remembered everything”. My bad thing was “I wasn’t good at explaining power to him”. My feedback wasn’t the same as my bad thing though. My feedback was “be more confident. You did everything correctly and didn't forget anything. I think it’s a girl thing. You doubt yourselves more than the boys”. Next up was a male medical student’s turn. He did the examination just fine but there were things that I could pick out that he could have done better and being totally objective my examination was better. But there was a major difference. His confidence. He seemed like he knew what he was doing and when he went wrong or missed something out, he just added it to the end of his examination. If I were his examiner, I would have found it difficult to fault him. He appeared confident and as a patient that inspires confidence and a happy patient makes for a happy examiner and good marks. After the session, I got to thinking: am I really incompetent or am I just underestimating my own ability which is making me lack confidence? The fact that a paediatric consultant and all my colleagues told me that my examination was fine, good even, answers the first part. I am not incompetent. So I must be underestimating my own ability. And if I am, is that something that is unique to me? Or are other medical students doing that too? And more interestingly to me, is this something that the female medical students are doing more than their male colleagues?
almost 6 years ago
In the initial interviews with patients who suffer psychotic symptoms, it might be striking that the usage of terminology of descriptive psychopathology lingers on an arbitration of knowledge of 'truth' by using terms like delusions or hallucinations with their definition as false beliefs or false perceptions (Casey & Kelly 2007). These terms can cause annihilation of value to patient's experience, which may pose an initial strain on the egalitarian patient-doctor relationship. In an era, where deference to experts is dead, it might be worthy on agreeing on the effect of these experiences prior to lablelling them. Delusions can not be objectively detected and described, because it evolves and exists within subjective and interpersonal dimensions. Severe psycopathological symptoms share the fact that they are statistically deviant, and thus can be labeled as 'unshared'. Symptoms may be perceived as 'distressing' and they might be 'disabling' to them. The outcome behaviour which may raise concern can be a 'dysfunctional' behaviour (Adams & Sutker 2004). Jaspers considered the lack of understandability of how the patient reached conclusion to be the defining factor of a delusional idea. The notion of defining 'delusion' as false belief was challenged by Jaspers. Sims gives the example of a man who believed his wife was unfaithful to him because the fifth lamp-post alone on the left was unlit. What makes it a delusion is the methodology not the conclusion which may be right (Sims 1991). Some delusions might be mundane in their content, others may not be falsifiable. Dereistic thinking is not based on logic but rather on feelings. It is possible to find ways to evade falsification; an ad hoc hypotheses may also be part of the presentation. Fish stated that delusional elaboration may follow delusion and/or hallucination which may have convergence with the concept of the ad hoc hypothesis. Absence of verification from the patient's side does not lead to deductive falsification (Casey & Kelly 2007). Otherwise, the doctor-patient relationship carry the risk to transform to detective-suspect relationship, where the latter may perceive the need to present evidence of innocence. Mental health professionals are usually encountered by people who suffer to various degrees or make others suffer, and not because of various degrees of conviction. The primary role of the therapist is to be defined as some one who tries to alleviate the sufferings of others rather than correcting their beliefs. Communicating with patients in terms of how functional is their belief rather than it's truth may prove to be more egalitarian and clinically tuned. This may provide some middle ground in communication, without having to put an effort on defining the differences between what is 'true' and what is 'real'. The criterion for demarcation between what is real and what is pathologic may be different in the patient-doctor relationship. The assertion on the clinician's part on the falsity of a belief or experience can have the risk of dogmatism. The statistical deviance of symptoms, their distressing nature, disabling consequences, the resultant dysfunctional behaviour and apparent leap from evidence to conclusion may be a more agreeable surrogate starting points. This might be more in line with essence of medicine or 'ars medicina' (art of healing). Concordance with patients on their suffering may serve as an egalitarian platform prior to naming the symptoms. The term delusion commonly identified as false fixed belief, when used by a psychiatrist, it does not address only a symptom. It rather puts the interviewer in the position of an all knowing judge. After all, a service-user may argue that how come a doctor who never encountered or experienced any of the service-user's aspects of the problem as being persecuted at work and home, as plainly false. Then, does the psychiatrist know the truth. From a service-user point of view what he/she experience is real; which might not necessarily be true. The same applies for people who lead an average life, people who go to work bearing with them their superstitions, beliefs about ghosts, luck, horoscopes, zodiacs, or various revered beliefs. This term has the risk of creating a temporary crack in the mutual sense of equality between the therapist and the service-user. This may be due to the labelling of certain dysfunctional belief as unreal by one side. It has the potential for a subtle change in the relationship to the mental health professional placing himself/herself in the omniscient position and it contrasts with the essence of medical practice where practitioners assume the truth in what the patients say as in the rest of subjective symptoms as headache for example. The subsequent sequel of this is other labels such as 'bizarre delusions' or 'systematised delusions', further add to the deviation of the role of the professional therapist to an investigator in the domain of 'Truth' and architecture of 'Truth'. Furthermore, it might be strenuous to the relationship when the therapist - based on skeptic enquiry - starts explaining such symptoms. For example, if the service-user believes that Martians have abducted him, implanted a device in his brain and sent him/her back to earth, and the response communicated back is the 'delusional'. It could be argued by the service-user that the therapist who had not seen a Martian or a brain device before, labelled the whole story as 'delusion' in a rather perceived dismissive labelling with no intention to check on the existence of Martians or the device. In other words, the healer became the arbiter of truth, where both lack evidence for or against the whole thing; one member in the relationship stepped into power on basis of subjective view of plausibility or lack of thereof. In the case of hallucinations, the clinician labelling the patient's experience as hallucinations can be imposing fundamental dilemma for the patient. For example, if a patient hears a voice that says that everything is unreal apart from the voice, and the clinician says that the voice is the thing that is unreal. Both do not give evidence to their 'truth' apart from their statement. The clinician's existence to the patient's subjective reality is distorted by the multiple realities of the patient, and arguing on basis of mere existence that the 'voice' is the one that is 'false', does not give the patient a clue of the future methodology to discern from both, since percetption is deceived and/or distorted. In this case, another tool of the mind can be employed to address the patient. The same can be applied to a concept like 'over valued ideas', where the clinician decides that this particular idea is 'over valued', or that this 'idea' is 'over valued' in a pathological way. The value put on these ideas or not the patient values but the clinician's evaulation of 'value' and 'pathology'. The cut of point of 'value' and 'over value' seems to be subjective from the clinician's perspective. Also, 'derailment' pauses the notion of expecting a certain direction of talk. The concepts of 'grooming' and 'eye contact' implicitly entail the reference to a socio-cultural normative values. Thus, deviation from the normative value is reflected to the patient as pathology, which is an ambiguous definition, in comparison to the clarity of pathology. The usage of terms like 'dysfunctional unshared belief' or 'distressing auditory perception' or other related terms that address the secondary effect of a pathologic experience may be helpful to engage with the patient, and may be more logically plausible and philosophically coherent yet require empirical validation of beneficence. Taylor and Vaidya mention that it is often helpful to normalise, but this is not to minimise or be dismissive of patient's delusional beliefs.(Taylor & Vaidya 2009). The concept can be extended to cover other terms such as 'autistic thinking, 'apathy', 'blunting of affect', 'poor grooming', 'over-valued ideas', other terms can be applied to communicate these terms with service-users with minimal deviation from the therapeutic relationship. The limitation of these terms in communication of psychopathology are special circumstances as folie a deux, where a dysfunctional belief seems to be shared with others Also, symptoms such as Charles-Bonnet syndrome; usually does not have negative consequences. The proposed terms are not intended for use as a replacement to well carved descriptive psychopathological terms. Terms like 'delusion' or 'hallucination' are of value in teaching psychopathology. However in practice, meaningful egalitarian communication may require some skill in selecting suitable terms that is more than simplifying jargon. They also may carry the burden of having to add to the psychiatric terminology with subsequent effort in learning them. They can also be viewed as 'euphemism' or 'tautology'. However, this has been the case from 'hysteria' to 'medically unexplained symptoms' which seems to match with the zeitgeist of an era where 'Evidence Based Medicine' is its mantra; regardless advances in treatment. Accuracy of terminology might be necessary to match with essence of scientific enquiry; systematic observation and accurate taxonomy. The author does not expect that such proposal would be an easy answer to difficulties in communication during practice. This article may open a discussion on the most effective and appropriate terms that can be used while communicating with patients. Also, it might be more in-line with an egalitarian approach to seek to the opinion of service-users and professional bodies that represent the opinions of service-users. Empirical validation and subjection of the concept to testing is necessary. Patient's care should not be based on logic alone but rather on evidence. Despite the limitations of such proposal with regards to completeness, it's hoped that the introduction of any term may help to add to the main purpose of any classification or labelling that is accurate egalitarian communication. DISCLAIMER This blog is adapted from BMJ doc2doc clinical blogs Philosophical Streamlining of Psychopathology and its Clinical Implications http://doc2doc.bmj.com/blogs/clinicalblog/_philosophical-streamlining-of-psychopathology-its-clinical-implications The blog is based on an article named 'Towards a More Egalitarian Approach to Communicating Psychopathology' which is published in the Journal of Ethics in Mental Health, 2013 http://www.jemh.ca/issues/v8/documents/JEMHVol8Insight_TowardsaMoreEgalitarianApproachtoCommunicatingPsychopathology.pdf Bibliography Adams, H. E., Sutker P.B. (2004). Comprehensive Handbook of Psychopathology. New York: Springer Science Casey, P., Kelly B., (2007). Fish's Clinical Psychopathology: Signs and Symptoms in Psychiatry, Glasgow: Bell & Bain Limited Kingdon and Turkington (2002), The case study guide to congitive behavior therapy for psychosis, Wiley Kiran C. and Chaudhury S. (2009). Understanding delusion, Indian Journal of Psychiatry Maddux and Winstead (2005). Psychopathology foundations for a contemporary understanding, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Popper (2005) The logic of scientific discovery, Routledge, United Kingdom Sidhom, E. (2013) Towards a More Egalitarian Approach to Communicating Psychopathology, JEMH · 2013· 8 | 1 © 2013 Journal of Ethics in Mental Health (ISSN: 1916-2405) Sims A., Symptoms in the mind, (1991) an introduction to psychopathology, Baillere Tindall Taylor and Vaidya (2009), Descriptive psychopathology, the signs and symptoms of behavioral disorders, Cambridge university press
Dr Emad Sidhom
almost 6 years ago
Through different periods of the Egyptian history from Pharaonic, Greco-Roman, Coptic, Islamic and Modern Era; Egyptians tend to respect, appreciate and care for elderly. There is also a rich Eastern Christian tradition in respecting and taking care of old people that has continued since the first centuries of Christianity. Churches used to develop retirement homes served by monastic personnel and nurses. Egyptian culture traditionally linked some aspects of mental illnesses to sin, possession of evil, separation from the divine and it is usually associated with stigmatisation for all family members. However, forgetfulness with ageing was normalised. Until now, it seems that the difference between normal ageing and dementia is blurred for some people. Recently, the term 'Alzheimer' became popular, and some people use it as synonymous to forgetfulness. El-Islam, stated that some people erroneously pronounce it as 'Zeheimer' removing the 'Al' assuming it is the Arabic equivalent to the English 'the'. In 2010, a film was produced with the title 'Zeheimer' confirming the mispronunciation. Elderly face many health challenges which affect their quality of life. Dementia is one of these challenges as it is considered to be one of the disorders which attack elderly and affect their memory, mental abilities, independence, decision making and most cognitive functions. Therefore, the focus on dementia has increased around the world due to the rapid spread of the syndrome and the economical and psychosocial burden it cause for patients, families and communities. (Grossber and Kamat 2011, Alzheimer’s Association 2009, Woods et al. 2009). In recent years, the proportion of older people is increasing due to the improvement in health care and scientific development. The demographic transition with ageing of the population is a global phenomenon which may demand international, national, regional and local action. In Egypt the ageing population at the age of 65 and older are less than 5% of the Egyptian population (The World FactBook, 2012), yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that a demographic shift is going to happen as most of the rapid ageing population will transfer to the low and middle income countries in the near future (WHO, 2012). Egyptian statistics assert this shift. The Information Decision Support Center published the first comprehensive study of the elderly in Egypt in 2008. According to the report, in 1986, 5 percent of Egyptians were age 60 and older. In 2015, they will make up to 11 percent of the population and in 2050; over a fifth. Caring of older persons constitutes an increasing segment of the Egyptian labor market. However, nation wide statistics about number of dementia sufferers in Egypt may be unavailable but the previous demographic transition is expected to be accompanied by an increase in dementia patients in Egypt and will affect priorities of health care needs as well. The Egyptian society may need adequate preparation with regards to health insurance, accommodation and care homes for the upcoming ageing population (El-Katatney, 2009). Although the number of care home increased from 29 in 1986 to be around 140 home in 2009; it cannot serve more than 4000 elderly from a total of 5 million. Not every elderly will need a care home but the total numbers of homes around Egypt are serving less than 1% of the elderly population. These facts created a new situation of needs for care homes besides the older people who are requiring non-hospital health care facility for assisted living. The Egyptian traditions used to be strongly associated with the culture of extended family and caring for elderly as a family responsibility. Yet, in recent years changes of the economic conditions and factors as internal and external immigration may have affected negatively on elderly care within family boundaries. There is still the stigma of sending elderly to care homes. Some perceive it as a sign of intolerance of siblings towards their elderly parents but it is generally more accepted nowadays. Therefore, the need for care homes become a demand at this time in Egypt as a replacement of the traditional extended family when many older people nowadays either do not have the choice or the facilities to continue living with their families (El-Katatney 2009). Many families among the Egyptian society seem to have turned from holding back from the idea of transferring to a care home to gradual acceptance since elderly care homes are becoming more accepted than the past and constitutes a new concept of elderly care. Currently, many are thinking to run away from a lonely empty home in search of human company or respite care but numbers of geriatric homes are extremely lower than required and much more are still needed (Abdennour, 2010). Thus, it seems that more care homes may be needed in Egypt. Dementia patients are usually over 65, this is one of the factors that put them at high risk of exposure to different physical conditions related to frailty, old age, and altered cognitive functions. Additionally, around 50% of people with dementia suffers from other comorbidities which affect their health and increases hospital admissions (National Audit Office 2007). Therefore, it is expected that the possibility of doctors and nurses needing to provide care for dementia patients in various care settings is increasing (RCN 2010). Considering previous facts, we have an urgent need in Egypt to start awareness about normal and upnormal ageing and what is the meaning of dementia. Moreover, change of health policies and development of health services is required to be developed to match community needs. Another challenge is the very low number of psychiatric doctors and facilities since the current state of mental health can summarised as; one psychiatrist for every 67000 citizens and one psychiatric hospital bed for every 7000 citizens (Okasha, 2001). Finally the need to develop gerontologically informed assessment tools for dementia screening to be applied particularly in general hospitals (Armstrong and Mitchell 2008) would be very helpful for detecting dementia patients and develop better communication and planning of care for elderly. References: El Katateny, E. 2009. Same old, same old: In 2050, a fifth of Egyptians will be age 60 and older. How will the country accommodate its aging population?. Online available at: http://etharelkatatney.wordpress.com/category/egypt-today/page/3/ Fakhr-El Islam, M. 2008. Arab culture and mental health care. Transcultural Psychiatry, vol. 45, pp. 671-682 Ageing and care of the elderly. Conference of European churches. 2007. [online] available at: http://csc.ceceurope.org/fileadmin/filer/csc/Ethics_Biotechnology/AgeingandCareElderly.pdf World Health Organization. 2012 a. Ageing and life course: ageing Publications. [Online] available at : http://www.who.int/ageing/publications/en/ World Health Organization. 2012 b. Ageing and life course: interesting facts about ageing. [Online] available at: http://www.who.int/ageing/about/facts/en/index.html World Health Organization 2012 c. Dementia a public health priority. [online] available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2012/9789241564458_eng.pdf World Health Organization. 2012 d. Why focus on ageing and health, now?. Department of Health. 2009. Living well with dementia: a national dementia strategy. [Online] available at: http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_094058 Andrawes, G., O’Brien, L. and Wilkes, L. 2007. Mental illness and Egyptian families. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol.16, pp. 178-187 National Audit Office. 2007. Improving service and support for people with dementia. London. [online[ Available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0607/support_for_people_with_dement.aspx Armstrong, J and Mitchell, E. 2008. Comprehensive nursing assessment in the care of older people. Nursing Older People, vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 36-40. Okasha, A. 2001. Egyptian contribution to the concept of mental health. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal,Vol. 7, no. 3, pp. 377-380. Woods, R., Bruce, E., Edwards, R., Hounsome, B., Keady, J., Moniz-Cook, E., Orrell, M. and Tussell, I. 2009. Reminiscence groups for people with dementia and their family carers: pragmatic eight-centre randomised trial of joint reminiscence and maintenance versus usual treatment: a protocol. Trials Journal: open access, Vol. 10, [online] available at: http://www.trialsjournal.com/content/10/1/64 Grossberg, G. and Kamat, S. 2011. Alzheimer’s: the latest assessment and treatment strategies. Jones and Bartlett, publisher: The United States of America. Alzheimer’s Association. 2009. 2009 Alzheimer’s disease facts and figures. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Volume 5, Issue 3. [online] Available at: http://www.alz.org/news_and_events_2009_facts_figures.asp Royal College of Nursing. 2010. Improving quality of care for people with dementia in general hospitals. London. National Audit Office. 2007. Improving service and support for people with dementia. London. [online[ Available at: http://www.nao.org.uk/publications/0607/support_for_people_with_dement.aspx Authors: Miss Amira El Baqary, Nursing Clinical instructor, The British University in Egypt firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Emad Sidhom, MBBCh, ABPsych-Specialist in Old Age Psychiatry-Behman Hospital email@example.com
Amira El Baqary
almost 6 years ago
So you're sitting in a bus when you see a baby smile sunnily and gurgle at his mother. Your automatic response? You smile too. You're jogging in the park, when you see a guy trip over his shoelaces and fall while running. Your knee jerk reaction? You wince. Even though you're completely fine and unscathed yourself. Or, to give a more dramatic example; you're watching Titanic for the umpteenth time and as you witness Jack and Rose's final moments together, you automatically reach for a tissue and wipe your tears in whole hearted sympathy ( and maybe blow your nose loudly, if you're an unattractive crier like yours truly). And here the question arises- why? Why do we experience the above mentioned responses to situations that have nothing to do with us directly? As mere passive observers, what makes us respond at gut level to someone else's happiness or pain, delight or excitement, disgust or fear? In other words, where is this instinctive response to other people's feelings and actions that we call empathy coming from? Science believes it may have discovered the answer- mirror neurons. In the early 1990s, a group of scientists (I won't bore you with the details of who, when and where) were performing experiments on a bunch of macaque monkeys, using electrodes attached to their brains. Quite by accident, it was discovered that when the monkey saw a scientist holding up a peanut, it fired off the same motor neurons in its brain that would fire when the monkey held up a peanut itself. And that wasn't all. Interestingly, they also found that these motor neurons were very specific in their actions. A mirror neuron that fired when the monkey grasped a peanut would also fire only when the experimenter grasped a peanut, while a neuron that fired when the monkey put a peanut in its mouth would also fire only when the experimenter put a peanut in his own mouth. These motor neurons came to be dubbed as 'mirror neurons'. It was a small leap from monkeys to humans. And with the discovery of a similar, if not identical mirror neuron system in humans, the studies, hypotheses and theories continue to build. The strange thing is that mirror neurons seem specially designed to respond to actions with clear goals- whether these actions reach us through sight, sound, smell etc, it doesn't matter. A quick example- the same mirror neurons will fire when we hop on one leg, see someone hopping, hear someone hopping or hear or read the word 'hop'. But they will NOT respond to meaningless gestures, random or pointless sounds etc. Instead they may well be understanding the intentions behind the related action. This has led to a very important hypothesis- the 'action understanding' ability of mirror neurons. Before the discovery of mirror neurons, scientists believed our ability to understand each other, to interpret and respond to another's feeling or actions was the result of a logical thought process and deduction. However, if this 'action understanding' hypothesis is proved right, then it would mean that we respond to each other by feeling, instead of thinking. For instance, if someone smiles at you, it automatically fires up your mirror neurons for smiling. They 'understand the action' and induce the same sensation within you that is associated with smiling. You don't have to think about what the other person intends by this gesture. Your smile flows thoughtlessly and effortlessly in return. Which brings us to yet another important curve- if mirror neurons are helping us to decode facial expressions and actions, then it stands to reason that those gifted people who are better at such complex social interpretations must be having a more active mirror neuron system.(Imagine your mom's strained smile coupled with the glint in her eye after you've just thrown a temper tantrum in front of a roomful of people...it promises dire retribution my friends. Trust me.) Then does this mean that people suffering from disorders such as autism (where social interactions are difficult) have a dysfunctional or less than perfect mirror neuron system in some way? Some scientists believe it to be so. They call it the 'broken mirror hypothesis', where they claim that malfunctioning mirror neurons may be responsible for an autistic individual's inability to understand the intention behind other people's gestures or expressions. Such people may be able to correctly identify an emotion on someone's face, but they wouldn't understand it's significance. From observing other people, they don't know what it feels like to be sad, angry, surprised or scared. However, the jury is still out on this one folks. The broken mirror hypothesis has been questioned by others who are still skeptical about the very existence of these wonder neurons, or just how it is that these neurons alone suffered such a developmental hit when the rest of the autistic brain is working just dandy? Other scientists argue that while mirror neurons may help your brain to understand a concept, they may not necessarily ENCODE that concept. For instance, babies understand the meaning behind many actions without having the motor ability to perform them. If this is true, then an autistic person's mirror neurons are perfectly fine...they were just never responsible for his lack of empathy in the first place. Slightly confused? Curious to find out more about these wunderkinds of the human brain? Join the club. Whether you're an passionate believer in these little fellas with their seemingly magical properties or still skeptical, let me add to your growing interest with one parting shot- since imitation appears to be the primary function of mirror neurons, they might well be partly responsible for our cultural evolution! How, you ask? Well, since culture is passed down from one generation to another through sharing, observation followed by imitation, these neurons are at the forefront of our lifelong learning from those around us. Research has found that mirror neurons kick in at birth, with infants just a few minutes old sticking their tongues out at adults doing the same thing. So do these mirror neurons embody our humanity? Are they responsible for our ability to put ourselves in another person's shoes, to empathize and communicate our fellow human beings? That has yet to be determined. But after decades of research, one thing is for sure-these strange cells haven't yet ceased to amaze and we definitely haven't seen the last of them. To quote Alice in Wonderland, the tale keeps getting "curiouser and curiouser"!
almost 6 years ago
This is my first blog on Meducation. I decided to tell the reader a bit about myself, so that future blogs will make sense. At age 48 and in an active and successful academic practice of OB & GYN, my best friend died from a complication of cardiac surgery. This tragic event made my wife's and me consider other things in life than just work, thus at age 55, I decided to retire from my academic position and to start working as a locum in many different cultural settings. The plan was to work somewhere in an area of need for six months and alternate this with travel for six months. It did not quite work out exactly that way, but close enough. I worked in Japan, then Pakistan, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, St Lucia, and Chiapas in Mexico. Much earlier I had had a two year experience in Africa. It was a very satisfying experience and my wife and I have never looked back. Many of my friends and colleagues kept urging me to write a book about our experiences and how we accomplished them. For a long time I kept resisting, probably because I felt that no one might be interested, and because I might have been lazy, and most likely for both of these reasons. I finally gave in, started writing and published an e book. The title is "Crosscultural Doctoring. On and Off the Beaten Path." the book can be down loaded for free from Smashwords at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/161522 The book is meant for medical as well as non medical people. It is written as a series of loosely connected anecdotes, some medical, some non medical, some funny, some not so funny. The book describes the immense satisfaction my wife and I experienced from our decision and I hope that reading the book might inspire others, medical or non medical people, who might be thinking about a career change or early retirement to jump of the beaten path. The book might also inspire other with similar experiences to write about them. I would love to receive some comments. William J. LeMaire JUNE 2014 Learn more about me please visit my website at: http://www.freewebs.com/wimsbook
DR William LeMaire
over 5 years ago
Bessel van der Kolk, MD, delivers the lecture "Childhood Trauma, Affect Regulation, and Borderline Personality Disorder" as part of the Yale NEA-BPD Conference.
about 4 years ago
Undergraduate teaching of radiology has declined in many medical schools over the last decade as the competition for curriculum time has increased. However the demand by students for skills training in interpretation of radiological images is increasing. Problem based learning (PBL) is one method to stimulate a student’s interest in and knowledge of radiology.
about 10 years ago
This vodcast is one in a series developed by Dundee PRN, a student lead initiative providing an online medical student network for Dundee. This vodcast provides an overview of the muscles of the eye, for example, how the superior rectus moves the eye down and in via the trochlear and relevant pathology. This video serves as a stand alone piece of learning but can also be re-used in a number of learning contexts and embedded into other learning resources.
over 8 years ago
A Comical Guide to the Psychosis OSCE Station is one of a series of comic strip guides created during a 3rd year SSC project to develop mental health e-learning resources for 3rd year medical students at the University of Leeds. The aim was to create a fun and easy way for students to learn how to perform well in a mental health OSCE station.
over 7 years ago
An essay I wrote for my course, with which I received an Honours grade (75%). I have an interest in Medical Ethics, and this essay discusses the possible physiology and ethics surrounding the controversial topic. **Introduction** (taken from the essay): My topic is designer babies. A designer baby is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of English as, “a baby whose genetic make-up has been selected in order to eradicate a particular defect, or to ensure that a particular gene is present” (1). In this essay, I shall be exploring the arguments and ideas surrounding the selection of a baby’s genes, which in modern times has become a highly controversial subject. This essay will start by describing the methods by which designer babies may be produced, namely pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and pro-nuclear transfer, also coined the ‘three-parent baby’ by some (2). Once these procedures have been presented, ethical considerations forming both sides of the debate will be discussed. Whilst the typical argument used is ‘autonomy vs. playing god’, other ideas include whether such procedures will have a drastic effect on the future, and change the world as we know it, as suggested in the science-fiction film Gattaca (3). The ‘nature vs. nurture’ debate is also described: whether we are defined by our genes as shown in Gattaca, or if the environmental influence we are subjected to can cause our genotype to be negligible, i.e. our genes have no impact on our traits; personality, looks etc. The expectations placed upon our offspring; the definition of disease and disability; the fear of the rate of medical development – will all be discussed in this essay. The conclusion will summarise the arguments of both sides, and will attempt to answer the following question: should we be allowed to design our babies?
about 7 years ago