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Breaking Research News: Terror Attack Footage Causes Brain Trauma

Discussion in 'News, Politics & Debates' started by Roerich, Jul 13, 2006.

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  1. Roerich

    Roerich M.D.

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    Terror attack footage 'causes brain trauma'

    13/07/2006 - 10:17:55

    Watching footage of terrorist attacks and their aftermath on television can alter the structure of the brain, experts said today.

    Broadcasters who repeatedly screened incidents such as the Twin Towers attacks and the aftermath of the London bombings were playing into the hands of extremists by harming their audience, a psychiatric conference was told.

    New research has shown prolonged anxiety causes a growth of the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes the basic emotions of fear, anger and anxiety.

    This can lead to long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the annual meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Glasgow heard.

    Dr Joan Anzia, professor of psychiatry at Northwestern University in Chicago, told delegates: TV companies which screen disaster footage to boost ratings should examine their consciences, as they are causing harm to their audiences.

    We already know that some people have an extra-sensitive amygdala, making them more likely to react instinctively and to be naturally more fearful and anxious.

    However, chronic stress, which is provoked by viewing repeated visual images of natural disasters and terrorist attacks, enhances the size and sensitivity of the amygdala increasing the potential to feel fear and anxiety, and eventually PTSD.

    The conference heard this increased sense of fear and anxiety was one of the key aims of terrorists.

    Dr Kenneth Busch, consultant to the US Department of Health and Human Services, told delegates: Their ultimate tool is not chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological, but psychological.

    They want to destroy peoples sense of security. Terrorists know that when they kill or maim a thousand people, millions more will have their lives wrecked by fear.

    Prof Anzia said news broadcasters should balance the need to inform their audiences with the responsibility to avoid unnecessary repetition of shocking images.

    “It is important that people know what is happening and have concise, accurate information,†she said.

    “But it is helpful to eliminate or reduce visual or auditory reminders of the stressor, which can trigger the amygdala to over-react.â€
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    I do certainly believe about the fear part of things, where people exposed to terror will then continue to fear certain things. I doubt many who lived through a train explosion use the train systems anymore.

    I think they are getting a little off course here though... and I put this down to some of these doctors who want to diagnose PTSD to anyone who sprains their ankle, or gets a paper cut, because its the new in thing to have apparently. I wouldn't say the research was concrete stuff though...
     
  4. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Yer, I undestand the DSM criteria Roerich, but what this type of fundamental work is doing, is opening up PTSD diagnosis to anyone who watches a movie based on an actual event, that could cause them distress, and not just news footage or the like. An example of this, the movie "We Were Soldiers" with Mel Gibson, is quite confronting about a real life reinactment of the beginning of the Vietnam War, with the first troops on the ground in battle. Watching that movie, one could assimilate trauma from if susceptible too it.

    Lets have a look at that first criteria then shall we, and the definitions of meeting that first criteria. The key words are "experienced" "witnessed" and "confronted".
    • Experienced is defined as: Having had experience in an activity or in life in general, or; Skilled or knowledgeable as the result of active participation or practice. This denotes that the person must of basically already been exposed to a near traumatic event, ie. a soldier who has deployed into an operational theatre, or a person who has had a life threatning car accident already.
    • Witnessed is defined as: One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced. Again, the legal definition determines that the person must have already been exposed to such actual situation, and not merely watched an event from the comfort of their lounge.
    • Confronted is defined as: To come face to face with, especially with defiance or hostility. Watching a media clip of trauma, is not face to face encounter by the definition.
    Once again, by only watching footage of traumatic events, is not sustainable by legal definition of the terms meanings as outlined within the DSM to meet the criteria of PTSD. This to me, is exactly the root of an issue I have with physicians who are going outside of legal definitions, and determining for themselves what a word means, instead of using what the legal definitions of the words are, for the purposes of diagnosis.

    To fit the legal definition, which the DSM is written word by word, a person must off already been exposed to a similar actual traumatic event to warrant tipping the balance with the catalyst being in favour off merely watching a traumatic event. A person must have been standing in actual view, site or direct face to face witness of watching a persons head get blown off, to be tipped by watching such footage through a media stream IMHO.

    This is why I say, some people are clutching at straws with PTSD, and trying to broaden the scope outside of the actual legal definitions of words, and classify a sprained ankle as traumatic just about... The above only depicts the legal and actual definition of terminology from the first statement, let alone going through each statement to define the legal meaning for diagnosis. I think we could all find plenty of people who don't actually fit the legal sense for the criteria and diagnosis of PTSD. Many should actually be diagnosed with a lesser scale, ie. PTSS or other anxiety disorder.
     
  5. Roerich

    Roerich M.D.

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    Threshold and sensitization

    Anthony,

    I have a different take on that news article, but of course everyone should be respected for their personal opinion. The criteria for diagnosing PTSD were culled from clinical observation so someone evaluating a person in Boise, Idaho, Miami, Florida, rural, urban, national, or international, could compare the signs and symptoms of their patient and have a reasonable understanding that they were seeing the same clinical picture. Why a diagnosis in the first place? A diagnosis of strep throat and diabetes don't stigmatize an individual whereas "mental breakdown" does, historically to the present. Medicine has come a long way from the days of locking people up, chaining them and beating them to get rid of "evil spirits". If only we could exorcise the spirit of stigma to a far away place.

    When a name is given to a condition it raises the possibility that others can add to the knowledge about that condition for better treatment and possibly prevention. Many Gulf War veterans came home with a mysterious rash, reddish vesicles which itched a lot that evolved over time and eventually formed darker areas of skin, with thickening, called lichenification. A crop of these would appear, usually on the lower extremities, and repeat over and over, year after year. Family members also got these but not as severe, or they were self limited and did not re-appear. It raises the possibility of a dose related allergic reaction, altered immune state, . . . hypersensitivity to an unknown allergen? Yet, with so many dermatologists in the world, try to find what you can on the internet about " Gulf War Rash". Why do so many Gulf War veterans develop obstructive sleep apnea, OSA? The list goes on and on.

    Past research has shown that emotional trauma shrinks parts of the brain, such as the hypocampus; what was not known was that prolonged anxiety can cause the amygdala to become more sensitive and grow. An action potential or nerve impulse occurs when the threshold for this to occur is lowered to a critical point. Too high a potential and the nerve does not conduct electricity, too low and it keeps firing over and over. The firing itself is caused by the suddent shift between positive and negative ions which quickly cross over nervous membranes in an electrical impulse that has force and direction. Curare raises the potential, causing paralysis of muscles.

    Think of a gun having a trigger set to discharge with a specific pressure from the finger. If the safety is on, the gun does not fire. The mechanism for firing has been blocked. Alter this mechanism is some way and you have a hair trigger, the slightest pressure will result in firing. Perhaps if the gun is dropped it will fire.

    Lower the threshold for firing in nerves and they will fire easier. Repeated experiencing of strong emotion such as fear and anger causes increased anxiety or stress. The new research suggests this process can lead to a growing possibility of producing greater stress. The most severe form of PTSD, Complex PTSD, occurs when past emotional trauma, such as abuse, can add to combat stress, and produce even greater suffering.

    Some stess is manageable, but when this adds day by day from conditions described in Section A of the DSM-IV diagnostic criteria, it is more likely that PTSD can occur. I don't think anyone is suggesting that watching terror attack footage causes PTSD, as " threatened death, serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others" is not occuring within the viewer.

    Sensitization of the brain from repeated life threatening emotional exposure may pre-dispose to PTSD. Yet who develops PTSD and who doesn't from exposure to the same environment is not known. Genetic predisposition, hard wiring of neural circuits, chemical balances, perhaps even right brain vs left brain dominance all may enter into the equation. Sensory input volume, emotional memory, alteration of neural circuits from emotional trauma, and perhaps yet to be known factors may one day be better know through research.

    Research announcements at conferences usually become published in peer reviewed journals. Since this process can take years, significant research findings are shared with the world community so that we may spark dialogue and add to the pieces of the research puzzle.

    I am reminded of a saying, " Eyes that do not see, heart that does not feel." Terrorists know that all too well:

    “Their ultimate tool is not chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological, but psychological.

    They want to destroy peoples sense of security. Terrorists know that when they kill or maim a thousand people, millions more will have their lives wrecked by fear.

    The world stood still on 911, and I do not want to see a day like that again. It affected us all, and for some it still does.

    Roerich
     
  6. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Now thats some interesting tidbits in there mate... thanks for that.
     
  7. nml

    nml Active Member

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    I find this interesting. When 9-11 occurred, I didnt have cable or any antennae reception where i lived therefore, I didnt see any footage on Tv regarding the terrorist attack. I moved during that year and had antennae reception by the first anniverary. Prior to viewing anything I had aonly read bits and pieces. I was ona plane the night before and had been transferred from my original flight because of thunderstorms at LaGuardie NY airport. I had been asked if I would like a hotel room to wait until morning but I declined. I needed to get back really bad for some reason, I was feeling anxious. Anyhow, the PTSD symptoms has been lurking for years but I did not know. The only channels I could receive were basic channels on tv and when i turned it on I could not move from in front of the tv. I was glued to it crying my eyeballs out. I had been using other obssesive rituals like housecleaning, schedules, overprotective parenting...but then...I fell into another unhealthy relationship which has been a fatal pattern with me. The only difference with the last two relationships I have involved myself in is neiether one has been physically abusive. Which may be because I got out of it in time and being sick and tired of being sick and tired. Perhaps some recovery has been sticking also. I havent ever watched anything that destructive again and I wont whenever there is something on about it. It was a major trigger.
     
  8. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    What I personally think were people who only watch footage with no prior traumatic experience should be diagnosed if presented with anxiety and stress, is the one that is not mentioned within the DSM IV TR, nor do clinicians generally move towards from what I know about it, being: Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified (DESNOS). These fit persons with symptoms that are not fully progmatic of other disorders, and is curable, opposed to PTSD, which is not curable.

    When I read about people being diagnosed with PTSD after one or two months from a traumatic incident, then within a few months showing no symptoms at all and never present symptoms again, truly shoudn't off been diagnosed in the first place with PTSD, because the very nature of PTSD itself has no cure, thus theoretically speaking, you should not be capable of being diagnosed with a non-curable disorder then months later showing no symptoms ever again of the disorder. The type of cases should be more suited into other categorizations IMHO, or DESNOS, where if the person presents more intensity and rise too their symptoms in twelve months, a clinician can always then upgrade their diagnosis to PTSD and other diagosis as determined by the symptoms.
     
  9. reallydown

    reallydown I'm a VIP

    I don't know--maybe this is because, as you say Anthony, I had already experienced traumatic events before this--but the images I saw on tv at the time of people getting killed etc were very upsetting and still haunt me...maybe the fact that I was a child when I saw them is also a part of it...
     
  10. maus

    maus Active Member

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    uh?

    What I know is that DES-NOS is the most "severe" form of PTSD. (not implying that there is now a competition going on in who has the worst diagnosis).
    This will probably be a new diagnosis in the DSM V.
    They've decided to do this for the people who have almost every symptom in some degree mentioned in the DSM IV and can therefore be classified with almost every psychiatric disease you can think of.
    (Hence the many misdiagnosis of severe ptsd people.)
    Because this was "ridiculous" they found out that there must be something else going on with this group, therefore calling it DES-NOS or complex PTSD which is the same.
    We shall see when the DSM V is available how they made their classifications. It implicates even more the ignorance of psychiatrists what to do with this scale of symptoms and how to treat these people.
     
  11. maus

    maus Active Member

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    hm

    sorry I edited the message but it didn't worked, so again:
    Roerich didn't say that. That DES-NOS is the same as complex ptsd it is something I was taught and have learned and red about.
    Those new (sub)classifications aren't helping the sufferers in anyway.
    Once a psychiatrist said that they should let go of their bible (DSM) and start focusing on their patients. The DSM is not a manual with diagnosis, it is a classification system. And psychiatry is not an exact science. There are no lab results or any other prove like in the other fields of medicine. In psychiatry you have interpretations of theories made on the basis of symptoms and brain scans. You could call it empiric science maybe. We try something on the basis of a theory and see what it does and if it works. But that isn’t enough to say afterwards, okay so this theory is a correct theory because it stays a theory.
     
  12. cookie

    cookie I'm a VIP

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    i suppose i didn't even have ptsd at the time of the 911 stuff, but i deliberately stayed away from the televsion reports, just scanning the newspaper articles even. did the same with the katrina situation. i could feel it distressing me, so i just "didn't do it." i still don't watch tv, and very seldom read the paper because some things are going to shake me up too much. as far as people being over-diagnosed with ptsd--where can we go to give ours back, lol?
     
  13. maus

    maus Active Member

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    funny cookie

    that's funny, imagine yourself making an appt. with your psych. just to return his diagnosis. "Thank you for giving it to me, but I don't need it anymore. Here you have it back" :)
    ("and by the way, it didn't help me very much")

    avoiding triggers is normal, you yourself decide how much you can handle
    I sometimes expose myself to tv and newspapers for a while and then quit when the symprtoms are getting worse. A signal that it is enough for the time being.
     
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