How to get PTSD. Twice. Worse.

I just read disturbing comments by a highly respected University of California doc Karen Seal [who screens and treats returning veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan at San Francisco’s famous Ft. Miley Veterans Administration Hospital, one of our premier VA Research Hospitals] about the redeployment of young soldiers treated for PTSD and other neurological and psychatric…

EVERYONE doesn’t feel the pain

Neil Pearson wrote an inspirational and informative comment from a soldier on the front lines of pain therapy about my last entry [which described another neurological confirmation of an empathetic response actually engaging the pain centers of the brain, when a subject witnessed realistic (fake) videos of inflicted pain]. If pain is an issue for…

West Nile virus is also on the list

In Caldwell, Idaho, on the Snake River in Western Idaho, Dr. Carolyn Rees tells us that she was at ground zero during a West Nile Virus epidemic “leaving many people with post-encephalitic brain damage”. A review of the research literature on WNV includes a number of studies now documenting enduring memory and other cognitive losses…

Was that Will really Free?

Not Shakespeare, mind you. We’re talking about the infamous Mr. Seung-Hui Cho. Stephanie noted in a comment that Sharon Begley had written very cogently (and generally in agreement with what I had written) about the origins of behavior that could result in something like the Virginia Tech massacre. Sharon Begley is a highly informed science…

Jack’s hippocampus is bigger than yours

My dog Jack, thinking, has a proportionally larger hippocampus than you do. If I had a pet bunny, its hippocampus would be (proportionally) larger, still!! You’ve probably heard a lot about the crucial role that the hippocampus plays in recording our “episodic” (historic, serial, ‘long-term’) memories. Does this mean that we should revise that age…

Why we do research

Why do we study autistic or dyslexic or schizophrenic or other subjects, in our scientific experiments? That is a question that was asked, rather impolitely, by “dyslexic in LA”, who challenged the “arrogance” of a perspective that engages such individuals as “scientific guinea pigs”. There are two simple answers to this question. We want to…

The brain and the law, when Bobby goes bad

Each year I deliver a “guest lecture” in a medical ethics course at Stanford. My friend Bill Hurlbut, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, is the course director. The issues that I raise in this course were addressed in part by an interesting cover story in the March 11th New York Times Sunday…

Another factor contributing to PTSD onset; the NUMBER of traumatic events

A scientific friend and colleague, Professor Thomas Elbert from Konstanz University in Germany, has had a long interest in applying “simple” treatments to individuals suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSDs). With his wife Maggie and others, he has developed and applied such treatments to war victims, primarily in Africa and Sri Lanka. There, literally millions…