Madness and the Family (Part One): The History and Research of Family Dynamics and Psychosis

I was very lucky to have great family dynamics but there were non-family related stressors such as bullying and other traumas in my teenage years. Here’s part one of an interesting topic:

Madness and the Family (Part One): The History and Research of Family Dynamics and Psychosis

There are very few things considered more taboo in the world of mental health than the suggestion that problematic family dynamics can lead to a child developing a psychotic disorder. And yet, when we look honestly at the history and research of psychosis and the broader concept of “mental illness,” it becomes apparent that there are few subjects in the mental health field that are more important. I’d like to invite you, then, to join me on a journey into this taboo territory, dividing our trip into three legs. In the first leg (Part One), we’ll go back in time to explore how such a crucial topic has become so vilified, and then embark upon a flight for an aerial view of some of the most essential findings of the last 60 plus years of research that look at the links between problematic family dynamics and psychosis. In the second leg of the journey (Part Two), we’ll explore a framework that offers us the potential to unify the research on the various problematic family dynamics, trauma, and other factors associated with psychosis, locating the roots of psychosis within two core existential and relational dilemmas that I believe we all struggle with to greater or lesser degrees. Finally, in the third and last leg of our journey (Part Three), we will reap the fruits of our exploration, and consider how what we have learned may guide us as parents, as family members, and as society as a whole in offering genuine support to those who continue to grapple with these extreme states of mind.

Mindfulness and dissociation

I’m coping well with my ‘voices’ these days but still feel very ‘mindless’ and dissociated.

Dissociation and Mindfulness in Patients with Auditory Verbal Hallucinations.

The very few studies relating mindfulness and dissociation have found a negative association between them (depersonalization and absorption). However, all these studies have been done in non-clinical populations and there are no data on the relationship between these variables in psychiatric patients with auditory hallucinations. This study was designed to study the relationship between mindfulness and the two dissociative variables, absorption and depersonalization, as well as their predictive power for the severity of auditory hallucinations and the distress they cause in a clinical population. Fifty-five psychiatric patients with hallucinations were given the following tests: MAAS (Brown & Ryan, 2003), TAS (Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974), CDS (Sierra & Berrios, 2000), PSYRATS (Haddock, McCarron, Tarrier, & Faragher, 1999), and PANSS (Kay, Opler, & Lindenmayer, 1988). A significant negative correlation was found between mindfulness and the dissociative variables, and between mindfulness and the distress caused by the hallucinations. A positive correlation was also found between absorption and distress caused by hallucinations and between depersonalization and their severity. Finally, the variable with the most predictive power for severity of the voices was depersonalization, and the variable with the most predictive power for distress caused by the voices was mindfulness. Interventions addressing training in mindfulness techniques could diminish the distress associated with hearing voices.

Rufus May’s excellent site has interesting articles on mindfulness and dissociation.

I need to work on the following:

●    Acceptance – accepting what is present rather than denying it or wishing it was not there.
●    Non-judging – observing objects and events without evaluating them.
●    Patience – we stay with the present moment and don’t rush towards the next exciting event, we focus on the unique unfolding of what is happening now.
●    Beginners mind – seeing things with an open mind and noticing their unique qualities.
●    Letting go – developing the ability to switch attention and let go of one object of concentration and focus on another
●    Being with – as opposed to trying to fix or control things or achieve constantly
●    Non-striving – by accepting the present moment and its accompanying sensations we let go of constantly striving for better moments.  We focus on the journey rather than just the destination.
●    Non-attachment – this is about relating to things with kindness but not clinging onto them recognising that everything changes.

Mindfulness in schizophrenia: Associations with self-reported motivation, emotion regulation, dysfunctional attitudes, and negative symptoms.

Mindfulness and Metta-based Trauma Therapy (MMTT): Initial Development and Proof-of-Concept of an Internet Resource. 

Mindfulness & Metta Trauma Therapy (MMTT) is a self-help therapy for improving self-regulation in people suffering from trauma and stressor-related disorders that can be practiced online. The therapy was developed by Dr. Paul Frewen, a psychologist at Western University, Canada. MMTT involves learning to apply 6 therapeutic principles to your everyday life through the practice of a reflective journaling exercise we call Mindful and Metta Moments, as well as through the practice of guided meditations. The 6 therapeutic principles of MMTT are: 1) Presence, 2) Awareness, 3) Letting-Go, 4) Metta, 5) Re-Centering and De-Centering, and 6) Acceptance and Change.


Trauma and Stressor-related Disorders

Trauma and stressor-related disorders are psychological problems that are caused by the experience of one or more traumatic life events or relationships. Different researchers and clinicians define traumatic life events in different ways; some definitions are very broad and general, whereas others are more specific. For the purposes of this website, we define traumatic life events and relationships somewhat broadly as any life event or relationship that caused a person psychological harm that continues to be experienced long after the event occurred or the relationship ended. Examples of traumatic life events include:

  • rejection, abandonment or betrayal following the ending of a close and loving relationship;
  • experiences of complicated or extended grieving following the loss of a loved one (complicated bereavement);
  • being physically or sexually assaulted, or witnessing or finding out that this happened to another person you care about;
  • being verbally or emotionally abused or bullied, including as a child;
  • being abused, mistreated or neglected by caregivers when you were a child;
  • being in a life threatening or physically disabling event, for example, as in military combat, a serious car accident, or a fire, workplace accident or natural disaster;
  • experiences of guilt and shame for physical or psychological harm that you have caused another person.

Post-Traumatic Growth Follow Up: What It Takes To Grow From Tough Times

Compassion and the Voice of the Tormentor

See more at Voice Hearers Connect

Cyproheptadine for sleep?

I’m getting pretty desperate for a good sleep [a few things in life are really stressing me out] even when aiming for more physical activity to tire myself out. I’ve stopped using doxylamine (noticing anticholinergic side-effects and at my psychiatrist’s recommendation) and olanzapine wasn’t cutting it, not being a great sedative without personally gaining weight quickly. Coming off a few weeks of diazepam isn’t helping the situation so I settled on a short trial of cyproheptadine (OTC in Australia). I’m worried about increased appetite and the other adverse effects but optimistic about the following:

Effects of some H1-antagonists on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats.

The present study was undertaken to investigate the effects of some H(1)-antagonists on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats in comparison with those of nitrazepam. Electrodes were chronically implanted into the frontal cortex and the dorsal neck muscle of rats for the electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyogram (EMG), respectively. EEG and EMG were recorded with an electroencephalograph. SleepSign ver. 2.0 was used for EEG and EMG analysis. The total times of waking, non-rapid eye movement (non-REM), and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep were measured from 10:00 to 16:00. Nitrazepam showed a significant decrease in sleep latency, total waking time, and delta activity and an increase in the total non-REM sleep time. A significant decrease in the sleep latency was observed with diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine, and cyproheptadine. Cyproheptadine also caused a significant decrease in the total waking time and increases in total non-REM sleep time, REM sleep time, slow wave sleep, and delta activity, although no remarkable effects were observed with diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine. In conclusion, cyproheptadine can be useful as a hypnotic, having not only sleep inducing-effects, but also sleep quantity- and quality-increasing effects.

Added to that:

“According to a small study, cyproheptadine hydrochloride has been found to improve sleep, calmness, and mood and energy levels, and to improve both negative and (sometimes even) positive psychotic symptoms in a subgroup of chronic schizophrenics who did not respond (either completely or sufficiently) to other therapies

Cyproheptadine may improve akathisia in patients on antipsychotic medications”

Managed to get a decent sleep on 4mg the first night but did notice the extra eating and residual daytime grogginess. The second night was plagued by the dreaded ‘nighttime hunger awakenings and feasts’ and not much sleep… This might be a short trial…

Update: Ended getting stressed to the point of tachycardia so propranolol ended up being a better aid. Feel much better.

Next step if this doesn’t work is consulting my excellent Dr

Cyproheptadine as a hypnotic – discussion

Rethinking psychopharmacotherapy: The role of treatment context and brain plasticity in antidepressant and antipsychotic interventions (2015)

While I’m struggling a bit at the moment, I really want to avoid getting back on clozapine for many reasons. I’m optimistic that “helpful social and physical environmental stimulation” will augment my current regime nicely!

The following goes into “the basics” in good detail.

Rethinking psychopharmacotherapy: The role of treatment context and brain plasticity in antidepressant and antipsychotic interventions.

Emerging evidence indicates that treatment context profoundly affects psychopharmacological interventions. We review the evidence for the interaction between drug application and the context in which the drug is given both in human and animal research. We found evidence for this interaction in the placebo response in clinical trials, in our evolving knowledge of pharmacological and environmental effects on neural plasticity, and in animal studies analyzing environmental influences on psychotropic drug effects. Experimental placebo research has revealed neurobiological trajectories of mechanisms such as patients’ treatment expectations and prior treatment experiences. Animal research confirmed that “enriched environments” support positive drug effects, while unfavorable environments (low sensory stimulation, low rates of social contacts) can even reverse the intended treatment outcome. Finally we provide recommendations for context conditions under which psychotropic drugs should be applied. Drug action should be steered by positive expectations, physical activity, and helpful social and physical environmental stimulation. Future drug trials should focus on fully controlling and optimizing such drug x environment interactions to improve trial sensitivity and treatment outcome

Exercise Improves Clinical Symptoms, Quality of Life, Global Functioning, and Depression in Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (2015)

Trying to find that “pure happiness, elation, a feeling of unity with one’s self and/or nature, endless peacefulness,” and “inner harmony.” that comes with a ‘runner’s high‘ [1] these days…

Exercise Improves Clinical Symptoms, Quality of Life, Global Functioning, and Depression in Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Background: Physical exercise may be valuable for patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders as it may have beneficial effect on clinical symptoms, quality of life and cognition. Methods: A systematic search was performed using PubMed (Medline), Embase, PsychInfo, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Controlled and uncontrolled studies investigating the effect of any type of physical exercise interventions in schizophrenia spectrum disorders were included. Outcome measures were clinical symptoms, quality of life, global functioning, depression or cognition. Meta-analyses were performed using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software. A random effects model was used to compute overall weighted effect sizes in Hedges’ g. Results: Twenty-nine studies were included, examining 1109 patients. Exercise was superior to control conditions in improving total symptom severity (k = 14, n = 719: Hedges’ g = .39, P < .001), positive (k = 15, n = 715: Hedges’ g = .32, P < .01), negative (k = 18, n = 854: Hedges’ g = .49, P < .001), and general (k = 10, n = 475: Hedges’ g = .27, P < .05) symptoms, quality of life (k = 11, n = 770: Hedges’ g = .55, P < .001), global functioning (k = 5, n = 342: Hedges’ g = .32, P < .01), and depressive symptoms (k = 7, n = 337: Hedges’ g = .71, P < .001). Yoga, specifically, improved the cognitive subdomain long-term memory (k = 2, n = 184: Hedges’ g = .32, P < .05), while exercise in general or in any other form had no effect on cognition. Conclusion: Physical exercise is a robust add-on treatment for improving clinical symptoms, quality of life, global functioning, and depressive symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. The effect on cognition is not demonstrated, but may be present for yoga.

See also:

Physical Exercise Alleviates Health Defects, Symptoms, and Biomarkers in Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder.

Voluntary wheel running ameliorates symptoms of MK-801-induced schizophrenia in mice.

Neuroprotective effects of physical activity on the brain: a closer look at trophic factor signaling.