Hearing Voices considered normal

Here is an excellent article. Hopefully it shows that slowly perceptions about hearing voices is changing!  Below is only an excerpt, see the whole article on the link here:

http://wellcometrust.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/the-inner-noise-sublimation/

In this article, Marika Ciuffa discusses proposed changes in the way psychiatrists understand and interpret auditory hallucinations.

“Have you ever heard voices or sounds that no one else can hear?”

We are in the middle of a clinical interview at an ordinary hospital, it doesn’t matter which one. A while passes before any answer. Suddenly the man in front of the doctor starts to look down and his voice begins to tremble.

Fear of being judged; concern about consequences. With this simple question comes an emotional load that hinders communication and sometimes makes it difficult to find the correct diagnosis. It is frightening to speak about voices, but the thing that scares the most is the mark of mental illness.

The standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals around the world is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The fifth edition (DSM-5) will be published in May 2013. It has been in development for a number of years and a few but significant potential changes seem set to break with the past and bring a breath of fresh air to many people’s lives.

Hearing voices – that is, the perception of voices in the absence of auditory stimuli – can be normal. This is one of the ground-breaking changes to have emerged from the advance publication of the DSM-5 Status of Psychotic Disorders. In contrast to the previous edition (DSM-IV), hearing voices will no longer be considered sufficient and specific for the diagnosis of schizophrenia. It is a big step forward for people who live with voices every day but do not intend to give up their right to be called “normal”…

…But symptoms like auditory hallucinations, taken alone, are not necessarily a sign of schizophrenia. In fact, they can be found in other diseases such as brain tumors and epilepsy, and also occur in around 10 to 15 per cent of the general population. They are an example of phenomena called “out-of-the-ordinary” or “psychotic-like” experiences, which do not always lead to psychiatric conditions and can sometimes be a positive part of human experience.

Hallucinations are also very common in people who experience trauma, loss or other stressful events. It is important, therefore, to evaluate them in the appropriate context, relating their meaning to the individual’s underlying problems (for example, there is a strong association between psychotic-like experiences and severe childhood sexual abuse).

A part of normal life?

How can people manage with the unusual experience of hearing voices? A study conducted by Dr Heriot-Maitland and colleagues, published this year in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology, evaluated the nature and context of psychotic-like phenomena in people who did (clinical) or did not (non-clinical) go on to use mental health services. People in both groups experienced these phenomena during periods of significant negative emotion, sometimes associated with isolation and concern about the meaning of their existence. However, the non-clinical group showed greater ability to make sense of these experiences in their lives, considering them to be transient and enhancing, not dangerous.

International associations like Intervoice (International network for training, education and research into hearing voices) share this non-pathological vision of the phenomenon, fighting against prejudice and the stigmatisation of mental illness. They aim to support people to manage this “normal though unusual variation in human behaviour”, underlining that “the problem is not hearing voices but the inability to cope with the experience”.

However, while it may be true that hearing voices does not necessarily imply mental illness, particularly in childhood, in other cases we could risk underestimating a considerable problem if people choose not to seek help or advice. It shouldn’t be forgotten that individuals with psychotic-like experiences are at significantly increased risk of clinical psychotic disorders, which can have severe effects on health and quality of life.

See the whole article at the link above.

BBC videos on isolation and hallucinations

Found these fascinating videos , they are excerpts from a BBC documentary, where they placed people in isolation ( in darkness) for 48 hours. Many started hallucinating. The Dr commented that in a lack of sensory environment, the brain stilll has to function, so it continues to create and work regardless.

So how helpful is solitary confinement for mentally ill one must ask? Many voice hearers will attest to the fact that isolation, and lack of sleep, and also late at night voices are often worse( when awake in the dark)

Here is the first http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfdN_megX4E&feature=fvwrel
in the second one you see them experiencing hallucinations http://www.youtube.com/watch?

v=0nnekxGE0nM&feature=fvwrel
The third one, they are tested afterwards, and their mental capabilities have deteriorated http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ewX-4eIomM&feature=relmfu

Long Term Antipsychotic treatment and brain volumes- published research,

This is an interesting but disturbing research paper that was featured in the latest NZ Psychiatry review.
 
Here is the link to the  study online here
 
To follow is the synopsis.
Long-term Antipsychotic Treatment and Brain VolumesA Longitudinal Study of First-Episode Schizophrenia

Beng-Choon Ho, MRCPsych; Nancy C. Andreasen, MD, PhD; Steven Ziebell, BS; Ronald Pierson, MS; Vincent Magnotta, PhD

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(2):128-137. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.199

Context  Progressive brain volume changes in schizophreniaare thought to be due principally to the disease. However, recentanimal studies indicate that antipsychotics, the mainstay oftreatment for schizophrenia patients, may also contribute tobrain tissue volume decrement. Because antipsychotics are prescribedfor long periods for schizophrenia patients and have increasinglywidespread use in other psychiatric disorders, it is imperativeto determine their long-term effects on the human brain.

Objective  To evaluate relative contributions of 4 potentialpredictors (illness duration, antipsychotic treatment, illnessseverity, and substance abuse) of brain volume change.

Design  Predictors of brain volume changes were assessedprospectively based on multiple informants.

Setting Data from the Iowa Longitudinal Study.

Patients  Two hundred eleven patients with schizophreniawho underwent repeated neuroimaging beginning soon after illnessonset, yielding a total of 674 high-resolution magnetic resonancescans. On average, each patient had 3 scans (≥2 and as many as5) over 7.2 years (up to 14 years).

Main Outcome Measure Brain volumes.

Results  During longitudinal follow-up, antipsychotic treatmentreflected national prescribing practices in 1991 through 2009.Longer follow-up correlated with smaller brain tissue volumesand larger cerebrospinal fluid volumes. Greater intensity ofantipsychotic treatment was associated with indicators of generalizedand specific brain tissue reduction after controlling for effectsof the other 3 predictors. More antipsychotic treatment wasassociated with smaller gray matter volumes. Progressive decrementin white matter volume was most evident among patients who receivedmore antipsychotic treatment. Illness severity had relativelymodest correlations with tissue volume reduction, and alcohol/illicitdrug misuse had no significant associations when effects ofthe other variables were adjusted.

Conclusions  Viewed together with data from animal studies,our study suggests that antipsychotics have a subtle but measurableinfluence on brain tissue loss over time, suggesting the importanceof careful risk-benefit review of dosage and duration of treatmentas well as their off-label use.

Author Affiliations: Departments of Psychiatry (Drs Ho and Andreasen and Messrs Ziebell and Pierson) and Radiology (Dr Magnotta), University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City.

I sincerely hope that the view that higher doses, and lifetime use of these strong drugs will be thought about more carefully, as it is causing irrepareable damage.

Research paper on Schizophrenia and Dietary intake

I was sent this link to an interesting article about Schizophrenia and diet. ( Also covers depression and diet.)

 
Here is a bit of an excerpt, to see the whole paper and tables etc click on the link above.
 
The British Journal of Psychiatry (2004) 184: 404-408
© 2004
The Royal College of Psychiatrists

International variations in the outcome of schizophrenia and the prevalence of depression in relation to national dietary practices: an ecological analysis

Malcolm Peet, FRCPsych Swallownest Court Hospital, Aughton Road, Sheffield S26 4TH, UK.Declaration of interest M.P. has received research funding fromLaxdale Ltd, a company which is developing ethyleicosapentaenoicacid as a treatment for psychiatric and neurological disorders.  
Background Dietary variations are known to predictthe prevalenceof physical illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease butthe possible influence of diet on mental health has been neglected.

Aims To explore dietary predictors of the outcome of schizophreniaand the prevalence of depression.

Method Ecological analysis of national dietary patterns in relationto international variations in outcome of schizophrenia andprevalence of depression.

Results A higher national dietary intake of refined sugar anddairy products predicted a worse 2-year outcome of schizophrenia.A high national prevalence of depression was predicted by alow dietary intake of fish and seafood…

Here is some of the further info

…Conclusions The dietary predictors of outcome of schizophreniaand prevalence of depression are similar to those that predictillnesses such as coronary heart disease and diabetes, whichare more common in people with mental health problems and inwhich nutritional approaches are widely recommended. Dietaryintervention studies are indicated in schizophrenia and depression.

The most consistent finding is that a greaterconsumption of refined sugar is associated with a worse outcomeof schizophrenia and a greater prevalence of depression. Inthe schizophrenia data-sets, a high correlation with sugarconsumption was seen both for outcome measures based on hospitaladmission and those based on social outcome. Other correlationsthat were found in both schizophrenia data-sets but not necessarilyfor both admission and social outcome measures included theconsumption of meat and eggs (adverse relationship) and theconsumption of pulses (beneficial relationship). Dairy productsand alcohol consumption were associated with a poor outcomein the IPSS study but not in the DOSMED database. With regardto depression, the strongest association was between a highdietary intake of fish and seafood and reduced prevalence ofdepression. A high intake of dairy products and sugar was associatedwith an increased prevalence of depression, whereas a highintake of starchy roots was associated with a reduced prevalenceof depression…

…Diet and outcome of schizophrenia
The finding that the outcome of schizophrenia is better in developingthan in developed countries has never been satisfactorily explainedand does not appear related simply to confounding factors suchas diagnostic differences and selective outcome measures (Hopper & Wanderling, 2000).Christensen & Christensen (1988)reported a correlation between international variations inoutcome of schizophrenia according to the IPSS study and theratio in the diet of animal (mainly saturated) fat to fish andvegetables (mainly polyunsaturated) fats. This was reflectedin the present study, where correlations were shown betweena higher consumption of meat and dairy products and a worseoutcome of schizophrenia. However, strong intercorrelationsare found between various dietary constituents, and on multipleregression analysis it was sugar consumption that was the predominantpredictor of poor outcome in schizophrenia. Exceptions to thiswere that the consumption of dairy products predicted hospitaladmission in the IPSS study, and alcohol was a weak predictorof global good outcome in the DOSMED study. Therefore, thedominant and robust finding of this analysis is the predictivevalue of sugar consumption.

Diet and prevalence of depression
There has been recent interest in the relationship between fishconsumption and depression. Hibbeln & Salem (1995) notedthat the increased prevalence of depression in the 20th centuryparallels the increased rates of coronary heart disease thatare thought to be associated with altered dietary patterns,including reduced dietary intake of omega-3 polyunsaturatedfatty acids. Hibbeln (1998) has subsequently demonstratedstriking correlations between dietary fish intake and internationalvariations in major depression. Using the same depression databaseas Hibbeln (1998), we have confirmed the relationship betweenfish consumption and international variations in rates of depression,and also found that sugar consumption relates to the prevalenceof depression. This had been noted previously by Westover &Marangell (2002). However, multiple regression analysis showsthat fish and seafood consumption provides the strongest andmost robust independent predictor of depression prevalence.

Spirit Possession, Theology and Identity- a Pacific Perspective.

Some of you may be interested in this book. I know I would like to read it.

See the details and introduction here on   http://www.atfpress.com/atf/images/toc_spirit_possession,_theology_and_identity.pdf  

 It talks about Maori and Samoan view of spirits, the Spirits in the bible, Spirits through the lens of history and theology. There are sections by Henare Tate,Helen Bergin, Laurie  , Elaine Wainwright and many others   The cover says this ”

Growing contemporary interest in spirit possession prompted eleven past and present faculty members of the University of Auckland’s School of Theology and 2 recent post graduate students to offer essays that explored the reality of spirit possession in Oceania today.”

 I think it is great to have a thorough exploration of a subject where a lot of people have only horror movies to use as reference of such an experience.  The truth will set you free…

Marijuana can send a brain to pot. The Star article.

This interesting article I found on The Stars website here

 note that it says the THC level found in the 80s in Marijuana used to be 3 or 4%. Now it is more like 12 %.

Also they have found there is more of the psychoactive ingredient and less of the Cannabiol which is protecting. 
 It is quite a long, but well researched article written by Nancy White.
Below is some of the article.(edited)

At age 17, sitting in the basement with friends smoking pot, Don Corbeil first noticed all the cameras spying on him. Then he became convinced a radioactive chip had been planted in his head. “I thought I was being monitored like a lab rat,” he explains.

It never occurred to him that marijuana could be messing with his brain. Corbeil had been smoking pot since he was 14, a habit that escalated to about 10 joints a day.

He started hearing voices and, at one point, Corbeil thought he was the Messiah. Police found him one day talking incoherently, and brought him to hospital, where he was eventually diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis.

Corbeil had dabbled in other drugs, such as acid and ecstasy. But marijuana was his mainstay.

When he went on anti-psychotic medication and off pot, the symptoms eventually stopped. But twice he tried smoking it again, and both times the demons sprung up. “Within 10 minutes, the voices started,” says Corbeil, now 20, of North Bay. “It was as if people had been in a box for a few years and then you take the lid off and they all want to talk to you.”

He slammed the lid back on the box — he swore off marijuana.

With good reason: Research in recent years has shown that marijuana can trigger psychosis in vulnerable individuals. But who exactly is at risk remains hazy.

Smoking marijuana is one of a messy mix of circumstances — genetics, stress, injury, age of first use — that likely predispose someone to psychosis.

“There seems to be a combination of risk factors. But nobody knows which combinations can be the triggers.” says Jean Addington, psychiatry professor at the University of Calgary and president of the International Early Psychosis Association.

Some studies suggest that youth in their early teens who become regular users — toking a few times a week — have double the risk five years later of paranoia, hallucinations and psychotic breaks.

While most studies have focused on cannabis and psychosis, researchers are also investigating the relationship between marijuana and other mental illnesses. In a survey of more than 14,000 Ontarians, Robert Mann, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that people who use cannabis almost every day were twice as likely to have anxiety or mood disorders as non-users. The study, however, did not determine whether the drug prompted symptoms or was used to self-medicate.

And a McGill University study on rats last year found that injecting adolescents daily with small doses of synthetic marijuana led to depression-like and anxiety-like behaviours in a series of tests. Researchers also found that rats’ brains were altered long-term.

“We finally understand that marijuana is not the harmless substance we thought it was,” says Dr. Leonardo Cortese, chief of psychiatry at Windsor Regional Hospital.

No one is talking about the return of Reefer Madness, the 1930s film about cannabis use leading to death and destruction. The vast majority of pot smokers will not go psychotic.

But two recent developments have researchers particularly bummed about pot.

Imaging studies now show that crucial regions of the brain are still developing in the teen years, the very time many start smoking pot. After alcohol, marijuana is the teen drug of choice. More than 30 per cent of Ontario’s Grade 10 students reported cannabis use in the past year, according to CAMH.

And what they’re smoking is not their hippie dad’s doobie. Growers have bred more potent pot, more than doubling the amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient, and decreasing the cannabidiol, a protective ingredient.

About 3 per cent of the population will experience a psychotic episode from all causes. The rate, however, of cannabis-induced psychotic episodes is not clear.

“We’re just catching up to the effects of high-octane weed,” says Dr. James Kennedy, director of the neuroscience research department at CAMH. “We need new follow-up studies to see its effect on the population.”

While psychosis is rare, for the kid hearing voices, it is life-altering. Some are lucky and the symptoms stop when the drugs stop, but for many, the voices and hallucinations recur.

Social stresses such as family problems and emotional trauma contribute to the risk of psychosis, as do some biological factors, such as brain injury, says Addington. A family history of serious, persistent mental illness, particularly psychosis, ratchets up the risk too, but the genetic markers are by no means clear cut…

In the 1980s, the THC level in marijuana was about 3 to 4 per cent. In the last couple of years, says Det. Don Theriault of the Toronto Police, tests on marijuana show a 10 to 12 per cent THC level.

An estimated 20 per cent of Caucasians carry that COMT variant. That does not neatly translate into a one-in-five risk, however. “They could have several other genes that are protective. It gets complicated,” says Kennedy.

So what percentage is at risk of psychosis from marijuana?

Kennedy hesitates. This is not solid scientific ground.

“I’d guess 10 to 15 per cent would be at significant risk if they smoked a lot of marijuana, almost daily, in their teen years when the brain isn’t fully developed.”

It’s the brains front part, crucial in judgement and social perceptions that’s still under construction in the teen years. “The wiring, the circuits where the neurotransmitters flow and signal are still being laid down,” says Kennedy.

So does smoking pot permanently change or damage this still-maturing brain?

We’ll have that answer in two or three years, says Kennedy. Imaging studies tracking the growth of teens’ brains are looking at whether cannabis use alters the development, or permanently damages still-maturing brains.

It’s not only teens that may be vulnerable, however.

Ana Smith didn’t use marijuana regularly until her mid-20s, after she graduated from film school. “I’d stay home in the evenings with my cats, make tea and smoke weed,” says Smith, a Vancouver resident, now 39.

Then she started smoking during the day as well, first thing in the morning and through the afternoon, instead of writing screenplays. The only time she didn’t smoke was weekends, when she worked in a group home. She didn’t drink or do other drugs.

At first the voices in her head were pleasant. “They tricked me into thinking I was being discovered by Hollywood. It was a beautiful world for a couple of months.”

Then they turned evil, terrifying her. Smith spent four lost days just walking, sleeping on the streets. She finally checked herself into a hospital and was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Smith has no known family history of mental illness. But a geneticist told her she had inherited genetic frailties from both her parents. Smith had also been under a lot of stress. “I think pot tipped me over the edge.”

After the diagnosis, Smith kept smoking pot because the voices demanded it. She stopped two years ago and her mental health has improved. “Now I know it’s just the illness rearing its head,” she says.

Research suggests that only about 15 per cent of people who experience a first psychotic episode do not have another, says Dr. Suzanne Archie, clinical director of the Cleghorn Early Intervention in Psychosis Centre in Hamilton. For a large portion of that 15 per cent, the episode was probably due to drugs.

“It can be very tricky to figure out if it was substance-induced or if there’s an underlying psychiatric illness,” says Archie.

If the patient is off drugs for six months with no psychotic symptoms, Archie leans toward a substance-induced diagnosis.

But for the majority, those diagnosed with a psychotic illness, the big question is: Could it have been prevented if the cannabis had been avoided?

That’s impossible to know, researchers say.

“The marijuana could cause schizophrenia to come on sooner,” says Kennedy. “If it interacts with a not fully-developed brain it could create a more severe, a more disruptive version of schizophrenia.”

With schizophrenia, marijuana likely precedes psychosis, although some people may smoke to ward off early symptoms.

With depression and anxiety, clinicians face a chicken-and-egg dilemma: Did the pot help spark the symptoms, or was it used as an attempt to self-medicate?

“These cases are difficult to tease apart,” says Dr. Benjamin Goldstein, adolescent psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Hospital. He advises anyone feeling anxious or depressed to stay away from weed. “The effects of pot on them swing more steeply toward the risk end.”

 To read the full article see The Star website.

 

The Kundalini Syndrome- an interview with Dr Ingo Lambrecht on Radio NZ

Dr Ingo Lambrecht, Clinical Psychologist and Hearing Voices Network Supporter was interviewed last night on Radio New Zealands Nights show, talking about the “Kundalini Syndrome.”

In this very interesting interview Dr Lambrecht discusses how  some spiritual practices can trigger off an energy reaction  he terms “the Kundalini Syndrome” – which can cause the person to start hearing voices and having visions. He also talks a bit about hearing voices in general.

 To listen to the podcast on Radio New Zealands Website- click here
Dr Lambrecht, has also provided the Hearing Voices Network website with an article entitled “Shamans as expert voice hearers.” which you can see here on our website

Mobile Phone apps for hearing Voices?

There is an interesting article on Mobile phone and therapy by Michelle Trudeau here

Here is a small excerpt on Hearing voices from it

One of the most intractable mental illness afflicting one percent of the population is schizophrenia. It’s for these patients that University of Pennsylvania researcher Dimitri Perivoliotis is developing innovative mobile technologies.

Palm-sized computers that chart a patients moods and activities, for example. And a digital watch that has personalized scrolling messages. The messages on the watch, for example, can instruct the patient on stress reduction exercises, like deep breathing or muscle relaxation, in order “to reduce the stress triggered by their voices,” Perivoliotis says.

“One of our patients came in with chronic, constant auditory hallucinations (i.e.; hearing voices) that really controlled his life,” Perivoliotis recalls. “The voices would threaten him that if he would go outside and do fun things, then terrible, catastrophic things would happen to him. He felt really enslaved by them. He felt no sense of control whatsoever.”

So the therapist taught the patient a few simple behavioral exercises to reduce the severity of the voices. It’s an exercise called the ‘look, point, and name technique.’ Perivoliotis explains. “When a patient starts to hear voices, he applies the technique by looking at an object in the room, pointing to it, and naming it aloud. He repeats this until he runs out of things to name (e.g., “phone, computer, book, pen…”).

Perivoliotis reports “the technique usually results in reduced voice severity (i.e., the voices seem quieter or pause altogether), probably because the patient’s attention is redirected away from them and because speaking competes with a brain mechanism involved in auditory hallucinations.”

So the mobile therapy watch that this patient wore was programmed to remind him a few times a day to practice this technique to control the voices.

“It really did the trick,” Perivoliotis says. The voices were dramatically reduced. “It kind of broke him out of the stream of voices, and his internal preoccupation with them.”

Exercises like these not only give the patient temporary relief from distressing symptoms, but importantly, Perivoliotis adds, “They help to correct patients’ inaccurate and dysfunctional beliefs about their symptoms — from, ‘I have no control over the voices’ to, ‘I do have some control over them.'”

As a therapist treating patients with schizophrenia, Perivoliotis finds the mobile technologies extremely useful.

“It gives me an additional source of rich information of what the patient’s life is like between sessions,” he says. “It’s almost like an electronic therapist, in a way, or a therapist in your pocket.”

Fascinating.

David Rosenhans Experiment

Wikipedia site states that David Ronsehan conducted this experiment in 1973, where he sent volunteers into Psychiatric hospitals , to prove that the diagnostic and treatment regime was no good. it says this

Rosenhan himself and eight mentally healthy associates, called “pseudopatients”, attempted to gain admission to psychiatric hospitals by calling for an appointment and feigning auditory hallucinations. The hospital staffs were not informed of the experiment. The pseudopatients were a psychology graduate student in his twenties, three psychologists, a pediatrician, a psychiatrist, a painter and a housewife. None had a history of mental illness. Pseudopatients used pseudonyms, and those who worked in the mental health field were given false jobs in a different sector to avoid invoking any special treatment or scrutiny. Apart from giving false names and employment details, further biographical details were truthfully reported.

During their initial psychiatric assessment, they claimed to be hearing voices of the same sex as the patient which were often unclear, but which seemed to pronounce the words “empty”, “hollow”, “thud” and nothing else. These words were chosen as they vaguely suggest some sort of existential crisis and for the lack of any published literature referencing them aspsychotic symptoms. No other psychiatric symptoms were claimed. If admitted, the pseudopatients were instructed to “act normally,” report that they felt fine and no longer heard voices. Hospital records obtained after the experiment indicate that all pseudopatients were characterized as friendly and cooperative by staff.

All were admitted, to 12 different psychiatric hospitals across the United States, including rundown and underfunded public hospitals in rural areas, urban university-run hospitals with excellent reputations, and one expensive private hospital. Though presented with identical symptoms, 11 were diagnosed with schizophrenia at public hospitals, and one with manic-depressive psychosis, a more optimistic diagnosis with better clinical outcomes, at the private hospital. Their stays ranged from 7 to 52 days, and the average was 19 days. All were discharged with a diagnosis of schizophrenia “in remission,” which Rosenhan takes as evidence that mental illness is perceived as an irreversible condition creating a lifelong stigma rather than a curable illness.

Then in a twist when one hospital claimed that there is no way they would so such a thing, he did this:

The non-existent impostor experiment

For this experiment, Rosenhan used a well-known research and teaching hospital, whose staff had heard of the results of the initial study but claimed that similar errors could not be made at their institution. Rosenhan arranged with them that during a three month period, one or more pseudopatients would attempt to gain admission and the staff would rate every incoming patient as to the likelihood they were an impostor. Out of 193 patients, 41 were considered to be impostors and a further 42 were considered suspect. In reality, Rosenhan had sent no pseudopatients and all patients suspected as impostors by the hospital staff were genuine patients. This led to a conclusion that “any diagnostic process that lends itself too readily to massive errors of this sort cannot be a very reliable one”. Studies by others found similarly problematic diagnostic results.

He published the results in SCIENCE.

Here is an excerpt from the BBC Documentary THE TRAP, about it.

How Mad Are You? On Documentary Channel.

I saw the advert for this briefly the other night. I am sure I caught a glimpse of Richard Bentall there?

It looks very interesting. Here is an excerpt for the program from the Documentary Channels website

‘In 1973, Dr David Rosenhan conducted a seminal experiment (Being Sane in Insane Places) in the USA, during which sane patients faked symptoms to gain admission to psychiatric hospitals and were diagnosed as such; some of them were kept in hospital for up to 52 days. He proved that psychiatry, the science of the mind, couldn’t tell the difference between sanity and insanity. It was an experiment which transformed how mental illness was diagnosed.

Based on some of the ideas behind that experiment, How Mad Are You has brought together 10 volunteers for five days to work through a new series of tasks, conducted by psychologist Professor Peter Kinderman. Five of the volunteers are normal, and five have a history of psychiatric disorders.

The question is simple: which is which?

During the five days, the volunteers are not allowed to discuss their histories as they live and work through the challenges together, facing stressful situations and confronting their fears. The tests are designed to explore the character traits of mental illness and ask whether the symptoms might be within all of us. They include performing stand-up comedy to mucking out cows.

Who will cope best? Will the individuals who have been affected by mental illness reveal themselves? Or will the ‘normal’ but shy volunteer exhibit the oddest behaviour of all?

Mental Illness affects 450 million people worldwide. It preys on all ages, all sexes and all cultures. The path to health can be long and difficult, but for many simply being called ‘mentally ill’ is a heavier burden to carry than the illness itself. Being labelled with a psychiatric disorder brings profound social stigma, leaving some people outcast all their lives.’

It is showing Tuesday 27th April at 8.30pm at Wednesday 28th April 2010 at 4.30pm and 12.30pm.

A friend told me about the experiment that was conducted back then. I will have to see if I can find more details about it and post it here.