Research Is Shedding New Light on Hearing Voices

What are we to think of someone who says that God has spoken to them?  Often the expression “speaks to me” is used figuratively, not literally.  When something really speaks to you, you mean that it is meaningful and emotionally relevant to you.  Mental messages that a person voluntarily generates are simply inner speech, that is, verbal thinking.  Most of our conscious thoughts are verbal.  Although most people can think in non-verbal formats, such as visual imagery, verbal thinking dominates people’s conscious mental processing.

When someone reports hearing a message “in their mind,” usually they don’t mean that they have had a hallucination.  A hallucination is a sensory experience in the absence of an external stimulus to cause the sensory input.  Often, hallucinations are auditory, but hallucinations can also be experienced in the visual or other sense modalities.   Auditory hallucinations are perceived as having the same qualities of sounds generated by external stimuli, and the person is often convinced of the objective reality of the experience.  more

How to tell if someone is having mental health issues

I recently noticed my colleague’s change in behaviour over the past year. For the last nine years that I have known her, she was a happy and well-adjusted person whom the other team members looked up to as ‘big sister’. People went to her for advice. But this year, she has been having bizarre and erratic behaviour swings. What is strange is that when she is unhappy, she will tell you that she is sad, but she will be wearing a happy smile. I find this very odd, especially when she has never been like this in the past.

There are many causes for a sudden or gradual change in behaviour in a person you know well.  more

San Antonio Man Working To Erase Stigma Of Schizophrenia

A San Antonio researcher seeks new treatments for schizophrenia while a San Antonio man strives to live a life of purpose with the disease.

Thirty-year-old Fonda White was a football standout at Marshall High School on the North Side of San Antonio. He dreamed of becoming a professional football player. But that dream was shattered in his 20s when he began hearing voices.

“A lot of voices. A lot of seeing things. Paranoia. Those kinds of symptoms coming up, fully blown, when I was age 25,” White said.

White didn’t understand what was happening to him, and it scared him; so, he tried to ignore it. He tried to keep playing minor league professional football. He kept trying to go to school, but the symptoms interfered with his life and activities. He started missing practice. He started missing school.  more

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Printmaker Bradley Davenport finds purpose in process

Nearly five years ago to the day, Bradley Davenport experienced an episode.

Then 24 years old, Davenport’s vehicle sideswiped a tractor-trailer while traveling along U.S. 20. In the throes of psychosis, he then led police on a high-speed chase beginning in LaPorte and ending near Michigan City, at times driving in the opposite lane, a news report indicates.

With the vehicle eventually spun out and blocked, a delusional Davenport punched in the face a police officer who attempted to restrain him. A Taser was employed, an eventual apprehension and admittance into a regional hospital’s psychiatric unit followed.

Shortly after the episode, and avoiding conviction, Davenport was clinically diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder — what amounts, in his case, to schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, he explained.  more

WHEN MENTAL ILLNESS ISN’T A MEDICAL ISSUE, HOMELESS PEOPLE SUFFER

A new case study involving a homeless man with schizophrenia highlights what happens when mental illness is “demedicalized,” or seen as falling outside the scope of medical care.

The article, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine, discusses the case of a homeless California man who was a frequent visitor to a local emergency room. Six times over the course of a few months the man, who doctors had previously diagnosed with schizophrenia, presented with auditory hallucinations and suicidal thoughts after losing his medication. Each time, he was released back to the streets without extended psychiatric care.

The article argues that this case and countless others like it happen because many of the consequences of mental illness—including homelessness—have been demedicalized. All too often, as in the case of the California man, the criminal justice system ends up filling the void left by demedicalization, the authors say. The man they describe was later jailed on a felony charge.  more

Voices: Overheard in Psychosis But Underheard in Autism

One of the many opposite symptoms of autism as opposed to psychosisthat was apparent from the beginning was that a classic symptom of schizophrenia is hearing voices, whereas a common complaint about autistics is that they seem to be deaf, and many autistics report difficulty hearing what someone is saying in a noisy ambience.

Now two different studies, kindly brought to my attention by Bernard Crespi, not only confirm this feature of the diametric model of mental illness, but also go some considerable way towards explaining it.

Not only psychotics, but a minority of the general population also experience auditory hallucinations frequently and without distress. As a recent study by Ben Alderson-Day and colleagues points out, “non-clinical voice-hearing (NCVH) is featurally similar to auditory verbal hallucinations described in psychosis, but usually more controllable and positive in content.”  more

Living With Flat Affect: Like ‘Resting Bitch Face’ but Not Funny

We live in a time when “resting bitch face” is a joke, selfies are constant, and activist art implores us to stop telling women to smile: We’re as aware of our faces as ever. But the conversation still largely excludes people who don’t always have control of theirs: people with a flattened affect.

In psychology, the word “affect” refers to someone’s variability in facial expression, pitch of voice, and the use of hand and body movements, according to a University of Washington Department of Psychiatry glossary. A person’s affect can be “broad” (which is the norm), “restricted” or “blunted” (which both mean pared back in some way) or “flat”: lacking signs of affective expression, or having a monotonous voice and unmoving face.

Think about the time you’ve wasted wondering if you made an awkward face when trying to remember if you knew that person you ran into on the street, or if you scrunched your eyebrows too much in that job interview. For people with flat affect, emotional expression is limited, reduced, or nonexistent. This isn’t an illness or a disorder in its own right but a possible symptom of many brain conditions, such as depression, Parkinson’s disease, autism, traumatic brain injury, and schizophrenia, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).  more

Sleep, Gender, and Mental Health

Differences in how men and women sleep could explain differences in the neuropsychiatric illnesses they develop, and potentially influence treatment, explained Ruth Benca, MD, PhD, professor and chair of psychiatry and human behavior at the University of California Irvine, at a conference on sleep hosted by the National Institutes of Health.

If a patient presents with a sleeping problem, there’s a strong chance he or she has a psychiatric disorder as well, Benca said at the 2018 Research Conference on Sleep and the Health of Women on Tuesday.

Epidemiological evidence shows certain neurological or neuropsychiatric disorders are more common among men than women. For example schizophrenia is more common in men and Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women, Benca said.  more

3 Women Tell Us What It’s Really Like To Live With Schizophrenia

When it comes to mental health, the facts and figures tell us a lot.
In the UK about one in six people will need treatment for mental ill health during their lifetime and it is estimated that at some time during their life, about one in 100 people will suffer an episode of schizophrenia.

At any one time, about 220,000 people are being treated for schizophrenia by the NHS, yet the illness is still a killer. Sufferers have a 5-10% chance of dying by their own hand within 10 years of diagnosis, which is around two and a half times higher than the general population. Schizophrenia strikes most often in late teens and early 20s, and slightly later in women than in men.  more

World in mental health crisis of ‘monumental suffering’, say experts

Lancet report says 13.5 million lives could be saved every year if mental illness addressed

Every country in the world is facing and failing to tackle a mental health crisis, from epidemics of anxiety and depression to conditions caused by violence and trauma, according to a review by experts that estimates the rising cost will hit $16tn (£12tn) by 2030.

A team of 28 global experts assembled by the Lancet medical journal says there is a “collective failure to respond to this global health crisis” which “results in monumental loss of human capabilities and avoidable suffering.”  more