About The Author

Hello, dear visitor –

my name is Frank, and I have been having obsessive-compulsive disorder for a long time now. It has had serious consequences for my life, in terms of relationships, studies and occupational matters. Still, I find it very worthwhile to explain features of the illness to others; and since I pursued neuroscience in the final stages of my academic efforts, I think I can contribute to a better understanding of this peculiar affliction.

Perhaps the most important idea here is that people who are living an isolated life because of their OCD, may find the courage for their personal ‘coming out’. The next step then would be to visit a professional, and to find the most fitting type of treatment to make OCD bearable. Patients are known to wait a very long time before taking these measures, because they are ashamed of their condition. That is very understandable. On the other hand: the earlier proper help is given, the more the personal and social damage resulting from the disorder can be limited.

I would be very grateful if my texts here would contribute a bit to a broader understanding of OCD, in patients as well as those near to them. Not for nothing I subtitled the blog: “invisible and underdiagnosed”.

Finally: your contributions are most welcome, in the form of replies. If you find any fault or imperfection in my posts, please do not hesitate to post something here.

P.S.: this blog has absolutely no commercial aims, nor does it represent interests of third parties, such as medical persons, scientific research groups, or pharmacological corporations.

©The Author Of This Blog. No reproductions of any part or element of this weblog are allowed without express and written consent of the author.

Advertisements

8 responses to “About The Author

  1. Lisa (forum name Womble)

    I experience my most distressing obsessional thoughts as ‘loud’. Not loud as if spoken, but loud as if the volume control on the thought has been turned up (more intrusive). I read a little about experiments by Zeki and Ffytche (1998) suggesting that level of activity in particular brain nodes (such as V5/MT) correlates with level of consciousness. I wonder if something similar happen with obsessive thoughts. Brain imaging has shown that people with obsessive compulsive disorder have increased activity in thalamocortical loops involving the basal ganglia, cingulate gyrus and orbitofrontal cortex. I wonder if this increased activity equates with my feeling of increased consciousness (‘loudness’) of the frightening thoughts.

    • Hi Lisa –

      that is a very apt comparison, or metaphor, of what we experience. You are right about the disbalance in the thalamocortical loops (also known as ‘cortico-striatal-thalamo-cortical or CSTC loops’, or ‘cortico-basal ganglial-thalamo-cortical or CBGTC loops’). Allow me an educated guess: your experienced ‘loudness’ could well be related to hyperactivity of the neurotransmitter glutamate, and hypo-activity of its ‘counterpart’ gamma-amino-butyric acid, or GABA. According to an impressive hypothesis of Edmund T. Rolls, the frightening OCD thoughts, that are experienced as being ‘overconscious’ and last too long (hence the rumination) are a sign of an overstable glutamatergic state, out of which we cannot switch easily; at any rate, not as easily as people without OCD. I still find it very hard to explain to a non-patient what actually we are going through.

      Oh, and thank you for introducing theoretical science here… I love those neurobiological terms, was still thinking about how to introduce them into future installments here. You broke the ice as it were…

      Cheers, Frank.

  2. Lisa (forum name Womble)

    Thank you very much for letting me discuss a little neurobiology with you. I have been interested in biological psychology since I read V.S. Ramachandran’s ‘Phantoms in the brain’. As a care worker I sometimes saw behaviour of those with dementia, Parkinson’s or schizophrenia interpreted as attention seeking or ‘acting-up’, when I feel it was quite often understandable in neurobiological terms, and that the person deserved a little more understanding about what they were going through. To some neurobiology is seen as a science, and science is seen by some as lacking in feeling, but I think it can improve empathy and understanding.

    Regards,
    Lisa.

  3. Hi Lisa –

    happy to have found you again (I thought something was wrong, because we had a dialogue under another post of mine).

    I think you are right. Science can improve our understanding, and provide more empathy. But sometimes science, esp. popularized science, makes unrealistic claims, and people shy away from these.

    For instance: ‘one day we’ll totally understand our own minds’, ‘in the future science will prove that there is no God’, ‘soon there will be a comprehensive and complete Theory of Everything’. All this pretentiousness doesn’t impress me. If these predictions would be valid, then there would be less and less new theories that put older theories out of order. In my opinion, the contrary is the case.

    What you describe, labeling mental health patients as ‘acting-up’, or as attention seekers, that is awful. It’s also a statement with a hidden message: I, the labeler, am a completely sane person. Well, the older I get, the less I believe that there are 100% sane persons. Everyone has problems to a lesser or greater extent. And psychological research has told us that people at the top of banks and large companies often fit a profile of the antisocial personality, or sociopathy. Which is not health as I like to see it.

    I will seek out that book by Ramachandran certainly. If I am right, a good friend of mine has a couple of his writings.

    Cheers, Frank.

  4. Lisa (forum name Womble)

    I was only speaking of ‘understanding’ in terms of understanding the problems of those with dementia, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia in the above. For example, one gentleman was walking lopsided with one arm rotated and his head to one side. This was interpreted by two care workers as doing a funny walk to get attention, but I thought that it may be truncal dystonia (which might be painful for him) as this gentleman had chronic schizophrenia and was on neuroleptics.

    I definitely do not see science as an answer to all either. I see it as just a tiny glimpse (or another view of a tiny glimpse) of the beauty in the universe around us. I think this glimpse shows how great the mystery is for us. Ramachandran was brought up in India as a Hindu. I cannot remember enough of the book, but I do not think he sees neuroscience as all understanding either, I think he sees it as complimentary to belief. I would not say that I belonged to any particular religion, but I do have very strong beliefs in trying to have ‘a good heart’ in this life. This does not come from science, it comes from empathy, from philosophy, from what I see as the essence of a message from many religions.

    Regards,
    Lisa.

  5. Another fine call, Lisa. Thanks for explaining that issue on understanding. You sound like a real medical pro.

    Beauty in the Universe, that’s a nice phrase. I myself believe in God, but not in the way that many people do – IMHO there are quite a lot of regressive tendencies in the usual religions, with too literal an understanding of the big books. That may lead to violent attitudes. God could never have wanted these. Perhaps it’s part of the human drama that people have a strong urge to set their own group apart from other groups; and therefore they draw unsettling and irrational lines, e.g. in terms of which food is forbidden, which sexual desires are demonic, and so on – to ‘define themselves’, their identity.

    I find the Bible a book with enormously inspirational texts (e.g. the sermon on the mountain, by Jesus). But the Old Testament does have its extremely violent and incomprehensible (for me) parts.

    Well, I must log out now. Thanks for the lovely dialogue, and I hope I may see you again here.

    Ciao, Frank.

  6. Frank, good job on the blog. I hope you continue it. Thanks greg

    • Hi Greg –

      thank you for your support. I hope you continue to visit! After quite some delay, I will re-start the thing (it was my first blog, and I had to get used to how such things work…

      Best, Frank.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s