Archive for the 'Research' Category

Mental Illness and Foreign Accents

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

It can be interesting to read the statistics of this blog and look at those keywords that have brought visitors here from the search engines. Two keyword phrases that have brought visitors are “people with mental illness talk in foreign accents” and “mental illness british accent.”

mouth

photo by Phinias H

That caught my interest. I have not actually said anything about my son, DS, having an accent, but it is true that most people notice that my son has an interesting way of speaking. This was true for most of his life and long before his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. He was born and raised here in Georgia, in the USA, but he does not have an American southern accent. Sometimes when meeting amiable people for the first time they will ask him where he is from. It is kind of funny to watch their reactions when he answers, “I’m from Atlanta.” My son’s way of speaking comes from his Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s is considered by some people to be a form of autism or pervasive developmental disorder and is a developmental disability… DS can speak, has vocabulary, etc., but it has affected communication in him in number of ways. The only way I can think to describe his speech is to say that it is precise. Sometimes he overemphasizes certain consonants and changes or softens certain vowels. It is really his own accent.

The only mention I have made of accents on this blog is in the people who have been caretakers for my son in personal care homes. It seems in this area that most personal care homes are owned and run by people with foreign language accents. The PCH my son entered last August was managed by a woman with a British accent. I believe that CA, the woman who takes care of my son today, is from Jamaica, since she mentioned something once about making a telephone call to a relative there.

Speaking of British accents, today this blog ranks about fourteenth of so in Google search for the phrase “mental illness british accent,” and nearly all the previous results are about a certain celebrity whose mental health is in question because of her recent behavior… including (supposedly) recently acquiring a British accent. I do not have any particular interest in following celebrity news, but if she were to announce some mental illness diagnosis, it would capture my attention and perhaps garner her a mention here by name.

Having my curiousity aroused I did a little of my own searching and found this academic article here: Characteristics of Psychotic Patients With Foreign Accent Syndrome.

The authors describe three patients with foreign accent syndrome during psychotic episodes which resolve with improvement of psychotic symptoms. Psychotic symptoms were worse during the times patients had foreign accents, suggesting a relationship between the presence of the accent and the severity of the psychosis.

Unfortunately you have to pay $15 to read the full article. I thought I would give it a mention for the benefit of anyone else who stumbles upon this blog looking for that connection.

The brain is certainly a mysterious thing.
 

A New Mental Health Resource Centre

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

young man with head in hands
Justin Wilson, of the “Me and My Beast” blog, has begun a website for mental health at his old web address at meandmybeast.com.

His blog is now located at blog.meandmybeast.com.

His new website has a forum, chat, and a mental health news page that I found particularly interesting. The news page has a great deal of links to recent research about mental health and will make good food for thought if I ever run out of things to blog about. 😉

I posted a question in the forum about my son’s apparent lack of awareness about his illness. I would be pleased to see some answers to my question there.

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

Monday, December 31st, 2007

Caution Step

photo by Esther17

Today I pick up DS so I can take him to the bank. The $528 rent is due and he needs to transfer his SSI money from his savings to his checking and get some cash for pocket money for the month of January. I could really do his banking for him, but I want him to handle what he can for himself. If I had my preferences I would do it all online and get him a debit card, but he has always been too paranoid of online banking and debit cards.

Before we leave the personal care home, the owner CA shows me the water bills. Sure enough, there is a $30 and 4000 gallon difference between November and December. I try to negotiate down to $25 reminding CA of certain extenuating circumstances. Unfortunately DS is in a mood to argue every point, so I just say to CA, “I’ll call you” and hussle DS out of the place.

The one-hour car ride back to Cherokee County was very unpleasant. I cannot count the number of times DS called me an idiot and said he hates me. I shocked myself by breaking down crying and then shouting at him. I can not believe how quickly he got through my shell. I can only guess that I was beginning to think of DS as normal and treat him as normal, all because Thanksgiving, Christmas and the month of December went so well. I am really hurting today.

There’s only one thing of interest to report today. Try Googling “memory impairment in schizophrenia” and you will get 1100 results. DS could not remember the wash, wash, wash conversation we had and he said he also does not remember the drugs being all over everything last June. He says things were just dirty. Once one thing has gone wrong with the brain, is it a surprising thing if another thing goes wrong? Or is it merely being so preoccupied with the other symptoms that affects the memory? More likely from what I have read, schizophrenia is so cataclysmic to the brain, nothing should surprise me.

The tic or twitch in the shoulder was back today with it extending all the way down his arm. His hand was trembling at times. This was happening two hours after we had both calmed down.

The only good news to report is that CA avers that DS continues to be polite and nice around the home. She said she was shocked by the side she saw of him today. Also, the 20-year old bipolar young man was moving out today. He was calling CA a *itch, and she would not put up with it. I reminded DS of the other personal care homes we visited, that were not as nice. We will see if he stays on his best behavior with CA. 

Schizophrenia and Cancer Research?

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Now this was the last thing I expected to learn about in research. According to this article at PsychCentral, people with schizophrenia are unlikely to get cancer. There are some very peculiar things that happen on the cellular level. If I may quote:

“It’s very curious that a brain disorder [schizophrenia] associated with very complicated human behavior has at a genetic and cellular level a striking overlap with cancer, a very non-behavior related disorder. Understanding these pathways might provide us with some new strategies for thinking about cancer,” said Dr. Weinberger. 

No kidding. Also, this kind of research can help increase understanding of schizophrenia, and perhaps find a cure for it.

Another reason I wanted to bring up this research is to emphasize to anyone who does not already know, that mental illness is a physical illness. Even though the symptoms may be all behavior related and there’s no blood test for mental illness yet, that I have heard of, it is just as physical a disease as cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis or anything else you could name.

Mind Hacks: Walking The Line

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2007/10/walking_the_line.html#comments

Another favorite pasttime of my son’s is walking. I will have to watch if he goes to one side or the other. Actually I found this blog when I was doing a Google image search for “Wellstar Behavioral Health” and found this image of two people in a hospital hallway. I thought it looked like Wellstar, but it is a hallway in the basement of an entirely different hospital. I guess it’s not surprise that it is in a basement. I do not remember any windows.