Tag: psychotherapy

Bioethics Blogs

Conference Report: “Biopolitics and Psychosomatics: Participating Bodies” by Alev Sen

Biopolitics and Psychosomatics: Participating Bodies

8 July 2016, University of Cambridge

Conveners:
Darin Weinberg, University of Cambridge
Monica Greco, Goldsmiths, University of London
Robbie Duschinsky, University of Cambridge
Michael Schillmeier, University of Exeter

Introduction

Can we think of our living bodies as involving forms of social intelligence, agency, and power? And if so, how might this proposition transform the ways in which we consider the possibilities and politics of patient participation? These were the questions at the core of the intellectual agenda of the conference “Biopolitics and Psychosomatics: Participating Bodies”, held on 8 July 2016 at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge. The event—co-convened by Monica Greco (Goldsmiths), Darin Weinberg and Robbie Duschinsky (University of Cambridge) and Michael Schillmeier (University of Exeter)—aimed to reclaim the term ‘psychosomatic’ from the reductive and polemical forms of engagement in which it is often caught, and use it as a springboard for reframing questions of agency, embodiment, responsibility, power and choice in the context of current challenges facing state-sponsored service provision in Europe and the US.[1] The spirit of the conference was explicitly exploratory, more concerned with creating space for a new type of conversation than to provide direct answers to the many questions raised. Despite a last-minute cancellation by Laurence Kirmayer, who was scheduled to deliver the closing keynote, the conference proved successful, stimulating discussion and debate about these important and timely questions, on practical, political and intellectual levels.

After Darin Weinberg’s welcome address Monica Greco’s introduction outlined the multiple connotations of the term ‘psychosomatic’ and the striking contrast between them.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Should Getting High be a Possible Treatment for Depression?

By Maria Paula Martinez

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Maria Paula Martinez is a student of a joint degree program majoring in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University and Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. She is 20 years old and originally from Bogota, Colombia.
What if instead of the traditional and usually ineffective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used to treat depression, we could provide patients with a drug that directly mimics the effects of serotonin, the “happiness neurotransmitter”? Not only have such compounds been around for over a millennium, but they are the active ingredients in psychedelic drugs such as magic mushrooms. A scientific paper released in The Lancet Psychiatry this past May opened the possibility for compounds like psilocybin, the active ingredient of “shrooms”, to potentially treat depression. A group of researchers in the Imperial College of London were able to give psilocybin to 12 patients with depression who had unsuccessfully tried at least two different treatment types and had suffered from depression for an average of 17.8 years. The results of this preliminary study were astonishing. Not only did all patients show significant improvements after a single week of treatment, but the remission rate was double that of patients given SSRIs in a three-month treatment period (Cormier, 2016). Even though these are only preliminary results, it seems there is little control over how the media decides to portray these results, and what is likely to happen when these news articles reach the hands of patients with depression is not promising.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

A Battle of Nerves

By Sol Lee

This post was written as part of a class assignment from students who took a neuroethics course with Dr. Rommelfanger in Paris of Summer 2016.

Sol Lee studies Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University. As a pre-med student, he is enthusiastic about primary care and global health concerns. Sol is currently doing research on glutamate receptors in Parkinson’s Disease in the Smith Lab.
Absolutely preposterous. This was the response of British doctors in 1916 as they declared heresy to Frederick Mott’s proposal: that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) coincides with an abnormal physical alteration of the brain. PTSD is caused by traumatic events or extreme stressors such as war, personal assaults, and car accidents. Symptoms include negative changes in feelings or beliefs, constantly feeling jittery or alert, having difficulty sleeping or concentrating, and experiencing flashbacks. Physicians and scientists at that time, and until recently, believed that PTSD simply meant emotional trauma. After one hundred years, however, new research suggests that Mott may have been right.

In a New York Times article [1], Robert Worth expands on current PTSD research and details its close ties with explosive blasts experienced during war. For years, explosive blasts were thought to have similar effects as concussions, and blast-related injuries were treated as such. Neuropathologist Daniel Perl, however, realized that blast-injured brains and brains of PTSD patients display tangible patterns of dust-like scarring, which are quite different from the tau buildup in concussed brains.
For some, this news generates a sigh of relief. It may ease one’s mind to realize that symptoms of PTSD are associated with a neurological wound, as opposed to a purely psychological one.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Creative Minds: Helping More Kids Beat Anxiety Disorders

Dylan Gee

While earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology, Dylan Gee often encountered children and adolescents battling phobias, panic attacks, and other anxiety disorders. Most overcame them with the help of psychotherapy. But not all of the kids did, and Gee spent many an hour brainstorming about how to help her tougher cases, often to find that nothing worked.

What Gee noticed was that so many of the interventions she pondered were based on studies in adults. Little was actually known about the dramatic changes that a child’s developing brain undergoes and their implications for coping under stress. Gee, currently an assistant professor at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, NY, decided to dedicate her research career to bridging the gap between basic neuroscience and clinical interventions to treat children and adolescents with persistent anxiety and stress-related disorders.

Gee, a 2015 NIH Director’s Early Independence awardee, is particularly interested in what she calls “safety signals.” Unlike the common approach to fear reduction, in which a child directly confronts a fear to overcome it, safety signals involve linking fears to sensory cues, such as the ringing of a bell, that have been previously presented in a context that provides reassurance. The child is presented with a stressor and a safety signal to condition the mind to activate alternative neurocircuits and relieve fear or anxiety.

Safety signals have been studied primarily in animals, showing, for example, that a stressed mouse can be taught to identify a safety cue to reduce fear. While some safety signal research has been performed in human adults, it has gone largely unexplored in children.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals May 2016 Part II by Melanie Boeckmann

Part I can be found here. 

Social Science & Medicine 

Where the lay and the technical meet: Using an anthropology of interfaces to explain persistent reproductive health disparities in West Africa

Yannick Jaffré, Siri Suh

Despite impressive global investment in reproductive health programs in West Africa, maternal mortality remains unacceptably high and obstetric care is often inadequate. Fertility is among the highest in the world, while contraceptive prevalence remains among the lowest. This paper explores the social and technical dimensions of this situation. We argue that effective reproductive health programs require analyzing the interfaces between technical programs and the social logics and behaviors of health professionals and client populations. Significant gaps between health programs’ goals and the behaviors of patients and health care professionals have been observed. While public health projects aim to manage reproduction, sexuality, fertility, and professional practices are regulated socially. Such projects may target technical practices, but access to care is greatly influenced by social norms and ethics. This paper shows how an empirical anthropology that investigates the social and technical interfaces of reproduction can contribute to improved global health.

 Medical errors: Disclosure styles, interpersonal forgiveness, and outcomes

Annegret F. Hannawa, Yuki Shigemoto, Todd D. Little

Rationale

This study investigates the intrapersonal and interpersonal factors and processes that are associated with patient forgiveness of a provider in the aftermath of a harmful medical error.

Objective

This study aims to examine what antecedents are most predictive of patient forgiveness and non-forgiveness, and the extent to which social-cognitive factors (i.e., fault attributions, empathy, rumination) influence the forgiveness process.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Special Issues: Psy Sciences and Healthism by Anna Zogas

In advance of our regular monthly journal round-up, here are two special issues to check out! First, the brand new June 2016 issue of East Asian Science, Technology and Society is titled Transnational Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia. Next, a special double issue of Eä – Journal of Medical Humanities & Social Studies of Science and Technology (open access) is titled Healthism & Self-Care: Reconfiguring Body & Life through Science & Technology. Enjoy!

East Asian Science, Technology and Society

Transnational Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia

From the 1970s onward, the psy sciences were witness to blustering confrontations from a New Age movement heavily informed by Asian philosophy. Nowadays, yoga practices and mindfulness training have been integrated into mainstream psychotherapy. Nevertheless, such trends toward East-West admixing are in fact not at all new. Through four case studies, this special issue provides empirical data complementing the abundance of new scholarship on the history of psy sciences in East and Southeast Asia.

Making and Mapping Psy Sciences in East and Southeast Asia (open access)
Harry Yi-Jui WuWen-Ji Wang

The rich history of psy disciplines or psy sciences (psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, psychoanalysis) in modern society has been subject to different and sometimes conflicting interpretations. Major events, theories, and figures have been recorded and the meaning of their contributions explored to illustrate the ways in which various forms of psychological knowledge become important sources of self-understanding and self-actualization. Insights into the social and cultural history of psy sciences enable us to understand the interconnection between forms of knowledge and the social order to which they relate (Eghigian et al.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Oxytocin: The Hormone of Hype, Hope, and Healing

By Shweta Sahu

Due to his work interrogating the role of certain chemicals in vole behavior at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Dr. Larry Young has come across the problem of his results being portrayed hyperbolically, as the science sometimes goes to fictional lengths. Yet this work has important implications for mental health. To demonstrate this exaggeration as well as its potential, I am going to address: 1. the buildup of the oxytocin hype, 2. the translation of the research and 3. the ethical implications in humans.
Prairie voles, image courtesy of Flickr user theNerdPatrol

Oxytocin and pair bonding

Dr. Young researches oxytocin (OT), a neuropeptide known to be involved in birthing and associated with maternal bonding, and his lab utilizes voles as an experimental model. Their research was founded upon on the idea that prairie voles are highly social, bi-parental, and monogamous by nature while meadow voles are less social, uniparental, and promiscuous. They investigated differences in oxytocin receptor distribution in the brains of prairie voles and meadow voles and found that in the monogamous prairie voles, there are more oxytocin receptors in the reward system of the brain. Young and colleagues then injected oxytocin antagonists into the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), an area implicated in bonding and reward. They found that prairie voles, whose oxytocin receptors were blocked, would not bond when they mated.

In 2004, Dr. Young began studying the neuropeptide vasopressin. The vasopressin receptor gene (Avpr1a) is expressed in another reward area, the ventral pallidum, which was previously associated with pair bonding in monogamous prairie voles.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

New Study Shows Mental Health Diagnoses and Treatment Vary Significantly by Race and Ethnicity

April 18, 2016

(Kaiser Permanente) – A large study from Kaiser Permanente, involving more than 7 million adults, found significant differences in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions based on the race and ethnicity of the patients. The new study published in the journal Psychiatric Services, also found that regardless of race or ethnicity, patients were more than twice as likely to receive medication for a mental health condition than formal psychotherapy.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

‘Genetic sexual attraction’ could become issue for kids of sperm donors

The British press is a fathomless mine of lurid but thought-provoking, strange-but-true explorations of the dark side of the human condition. Last week’s revelation was published in a magazine called The New Day — a passionate incestuous romance between a 51-year-old British woman and her 32-year-old American son.

Kim West was studying in California when she had a child out of wedlock. She gave him up for adoption and turned to England. Nearly 30 years later she learned that her son Ben Ford wanted to contact her. When they met, they immediately felt an overwhelming sexual attraction. Ben ended up abandoning his wife and moving in with his mother. They live together and are considering having children.

Post-adoption romance is a poorly-understood but well-documented phenomenon. In 1980s an American adoption counsellor, Barbara Gonyo, coined the term “genetic sexual attraction”(GSA) for these passionate feelings. Two British psychologists interviewed several people in the grip of GSA who all described “a romantic ‘falling in love’, intense and explosive, sudden and almost irresistible”.

Since incest is not only taboo but illegal in most jurisdictions, people are reluctant to discuss it. However the psychologists estimated that such feeling are present about 50 percent of the time when siblings and parents are reunited. Their article was published 20 years ago in the British Journal of Medical Psychology (later renamed Psychology and Psychotherapy), so it is possible that the number of cases has increased.

In fact, as a sympathetic columnist for The (London) Telegraph pointed out, the use of anonymous sperm donation could cause a huge increase in the prevalence of GSA.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Emptiness and the Medical Encounter: The interior spatial requirements of encountering by Suzanne Cochrane

Thirty spokes converge in a hub
There where there is nothing,
That is the chariot’s usefulness.
Fashion earth to make a vase from it,
There where there is nothing,
That is the vessel’s usefulness

– Lao Zi

Emptiness…makes it possible to move about freely and succeeds in ‘letting pass’. The important thing is not to determine ‘what’ passes – assuming one even could – but to conserve its energy, as physics says, that is, preserve its activity.

– François Jullien

If your body [xing 形] is not correct,
The inner power will not come.
If at the centre you are not tranquil,
Your mind will not be ordered.
Correct [zheng正] your body and gather in the power,
Then it will pour in of its own accord.

– Guanzi jiao zheng, Ch.6

The medical encounter, and perhaps particularly the Chinese medical encounter, requires practitioners to place themselves in relation to the person with whom they are working, to achieve an intra-active entangled relation to the other. And we need to do so in a way that can enfold [4] knowledge of the patient-other into our frames of meaning, those diagnostic resources we hold for just this purpose to facilitate therapeutic intervention(s) and guide us through the conundrum of dis-ease, navigating the perturbations that afflict the patient-other. The messy, sticky, distracted business of encountering disorder can engender a multiplicity of resistances and vulnerabilities, which can both allow and impede the clear sight of what ‘really’ is ‘wrong’ and what might be fixed/transformed by the tools available.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.