Tag Archives: psychiatry

Take my Rorschach test – and then learn it’s history, effectiveness, how it shouldn’t be used

Two inkblots below. After looking at each one tell me what you think they look like (my answers at bottom).

 

I first came across the Rorschach inkblot test when I was training to be a clinical psychologist. I was shown a series of cards containing inkblots and asked to say what they looked like to me (Tester: “What does this look like?” Me: “A bat.”) I remember thinking that it felt more like a tarot reading than a proper psychometric test.

However, when the test was scored and interpreted, it produced a scarily accurate profile of my personality. It knew things about me that even my mother didn’t know. I’ve been a fan, if a rather sceptical one, ever since.

So, what is the Rorschach inkblot test? It’s simply a set of cards containing pictures of inkblots that have been folded over on themselves to create a mirror image.

By asking the person to tell you what they see in the inkblot, they are actually telling you about themselves, and how they project meaning on to the real world.

But the inventor of the test, Hermann Rorschach, never intended it to be a test of personality.

 

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MIT scientists prove that individual neurons store memories

MIT researchers have shown, for the first time ever, that memories are stored in specific brain cells. By triggering a small cluster of neurons, the researchers were able to force the subject to recall a specific memory. By removing these neurons, the subject would lose that memory.

As you can imagine, the trick here is activating individual neurons, which are incredibly small and not really the kind of thing you can attach electrodes to. To do this, the researchers used optogenetics, a bleeding edge sphere of science that involves the genetic manipulation of cells so that they’re sensitive to light. These modified cells are then triggered using lasers; you drill a hole through the subject’s skull and point the laser at a small cluster of neurons.

…we should note that MIT’s subjects in this case are mice

The main significance here is that we finally have proof that memories are physical rather than conceptual.

Keep reading – Extreme Tech

Criteria for Autism is changing as the DSM-5 creates a new category: Autism Spectrum Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed new diagnostic criteria for Autism in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

While final decisions are still months away, the recommendations reflect the work of dozens of the nation’s top scientific and research minds and are supported by more than a decade of intensive study and analysis.

The proposal recommends a new category called autism spectrum disorder which would incorporate several previously separate diagnoses, including autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

The proposal asserts that symptoms of these four disorders represent a continuum from mild to severe, rather than a simple yes or no diagnosis to a specific disorder. The proposed diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder specify a range of severity as well as describe the individual’s overall developmental status–in social communication and other relevant cognitive and motor behaviors.

This change will help clinicians more accurately diagnose people with relevant symptoms and behaviors by recognizing the differences from person to person, rather than providing general labels that tend not to be consistently applied across different clinics and centers.

Field testing of the proposed criteria for autism spectrum disorder does not indicate that there will be any change in the number of patients receiving care for autism spectrum disorders in treatment centers–just more accurate diagnoses that can lead to more focused treatment.

via American Psychiatric Association

DSM is the manual used by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders. The APA will publish DSM-5 in 2013, culminating a 14-year revision process.

For ADHD drugs it's dependence vs abuse, not addiction vs dependence

Amy and I had a strong debate today about the difference between addiction and dependence. Both of us were using different explanations, so we resorted to the official definitions in the DSM-IV, the American Psychiatric Associations big book of disorders and definitions.

As you will read below their is no mention of addiction in the manual. They purposely excluded that term in favor of more descriptive ones. Which means that addiction is now classified as dependence or abuse.

Substance Dependence

The essential feature of Substance Dependence is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological, symptoms indicating that the individual continues use of the substance despite significant substance-related problems.

There is a pattern of self-administration that can result in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug-taking behavior. A diagnosis of Substance Dependence can be applied to every class of substances except caffeine.

Substance Abuse

The essential feature of Substance Abuse is a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of substances.

Unlike the criteria for Substance Dependence, the criteria for Substance Abuse do not include tolerance, withdrawal, or a pattern of compulsive use and instead include only the harmful consequences of repeated use.

Addiction vs Dependence/Abuse

The DSM views abuse and dependency as a continuum, meaning addiction is not, in their eyes, an on-or-off proposition, but a disorder with degrees of affliction. The distinction is important when compared to 12-step programs, which preach that one is either addicted or not, and if you are, you are powerless over such addiction.

via Powerless No Longer

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For ADHD drugs it’s dependence vs abuse, not addiction vs dependence

Amy and I had a strong debate today about the difference between addiction and dependence. Both of us were using different explanations, so we resorted to the official definitions in the DSM-IV, the American Psychiatric Associations big book of disorders and definitions.

As you will read below their is no mention of addiction in the manual. They purposely excluded that term in favor of more descriptive ones. Which means that addiction is now classified as dependence or abuse.

Substance Dependence

The essential feature of Substance Dependence is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological, symptoms indicating that the individual continues use of the substance despite significant substance-related problems.

There is a pattern of self-administration that can result in tolerance, withdrawal, and compulsive drug-taking behavior. A diagnosis of Substance Dependence can be applied to every class of substances except caffeine.

Substance Abuse

The essential feature of Substance Abuse is a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the repeated use of substances.

Unlike the criteria for Substance Dependence, the criteria for Substance Abuse do not include tolerance, withdrawal, or a pattern of compulsive use and instead include only the harmful consequences of repeated use.

Addiction vs Dependence/Abuse

The DSM views abuse and dependency as a continuum, meaning addiction is not, in their eyes, an on-or-off proposition, but a disorder with degrees of affliction. The distinction is important when compared to 12-step programs, which preach that one is either addicted or not, and if you are, you are powerless over such addiction.

via Powerless No Longer

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Do you have ADD or ADHD? Test yourself against the official criteria from the DSM-IV

The following is excerpted from the DSM-IV, the medical manual used by the American Psychiatric Association to define mental disorders. These definitions are then broadly accepted in the entire health profession.

Go ahead and give yourself the test.
 

Diagnostic criteria for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

A. Satisfy Either (1) or (2):

1. Six (or more) of the following symptoms of inattention have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is maladaptive and inconsistent with developmental level:

Inattention

  • (a) often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, or other activities
  • (b) often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • (c) often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • (d) often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork. Chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions)
  • (e) often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities
  • (f) often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort (such as schoolwork or homework)
  • (g) often loses things necessary for tasks or activities (e.g. toys, school assignments, pencils, books, or tools)
  • (h) is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli
  • (i) is often forgetful in daily activities

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