Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a form of child abuse in which a parent induces real or apparent symptoms of a disease in a child. This syndrome almost always involves a mother abusing her child by seeking unneeded medical attention for the child. She may fake symptoms of illness in her child by adding blood to the child’s urine or stool, withholding food, falsifying fevers, secretly giving the child drugs to make the child throw up or have diarrhea, or using other tricks, such as infecting intravenous (given through a vein) lines to make the child appear or become ill. These children are often hospitalized with groups of symptoms that don’t quite fit any known disease. Frequently, the children are made to suffer through unnecessary tests, surgeries, or other uncomfortable procedures.
The parent is usually very helpful in the hospital setting and is often appreciated by the nursing staff for the care she gives her child. She is often seen as devoted and self-sacrificing, which can make medical professionals unlikely to suspect the diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Her frequent visits unfortunately also make the child accessible to her so that she can induce further symptoms. Changes in the child’s condition are almost never witnessed by hospital staff and almost always occur only in the mother’s presence.
Munchausen syndrome occurs because of psychological problems in the adult, and is generally an attention-seeking behavior. The syndrome can be life-threatening for the child involved.
· The child’s symptoms do not fit a classical picture of illness or do not fit together well.
· The child’s symptoms improve at the hospital but reappear at home.
· The parent is overattentive or “too helpful.”
· The parent is often involved in a health-care field, such as nursing.
Exams and Tests
· Blood samples used for lab work do not match the patient’s blood type.
· The presence of drugs or chemicals in blood, stool, or urine samples cannot be accounted for.
Once the syndrome is recognized, the child needs to be protected and removed from direct care of the parent. The affected parent should not be accused directly, but offered help.
Because this is a form of child abuse, the syndrome must be reported to the authorities.
Children may require medical care to treat injuries the parent inflicted, as well as psychiatric care to deal with depression, anxiety, and other conditions that can be provoked by child abuse. Some children may die from infections or other injuries inflicted by parents with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Ekman’s eight global emotions
Paul Ekman is an American psychologist whose most well known contribution to the field was the discovery of 8 global facial expression. The expressions are:
Ekman’s work was based upon the work of Silvan Tomkins. Ekman wanted to know whether facial expressions were a product of the environment in which you live (nurture) or if they were an inherent expression of emotion that all human beings could identify with (nature).
It was found that people in the Western world could easily identify the aforementioned facial expressions, but this did not prove that this was not a product of the environment. He built on this research with cross-cultural examination of the Fore tribesman in Papua New Guinea, as these were a people who did not have any exposure to the Western world and could therefore be appropriate test subjects. It was found that these people were able to easily identify all of the facial expressions, therefore supporting Ekman’s idea that the physical expressions of certain emotions are universal to all humans.
Information for this post was taken from the textbook Psychology and Life.
Hippocampus: Genetically encoded fluorescent proteins illuminate neurons in different colors.
Taken from Portraits of the Mind by Carl Schoonover. If you have the chance, pick it up for your book collection!
I’m working on another post about the various perspectives in psychology, and I just put together an about page if you’re curious…I guess.
Just a note though, my end of sem exams start in 8 days, and I have a lot of study to do. They last until the 19th, but I will endeavour to get a few of my own posts up between now and then, however, I’ll probably mostly be reblogging things until I have more time to sit down and work out what I want to post about.
This post is essentially going to be a bit of a quick psychology 101. You’ve probably heard of Sigmund Freud, and maybe you’ve heard of Ivan Pavlov too (drooling dogs ring any bells? Ba dum tishhhh), but there are plenty of others out there who made staggering contributions to psychology who are just as important as the more widely known names.
Wilhelm Wundt is a key figure in the history of psychology, and is commonly attributed status as being the father of experimental psychology. In Germany in 1819, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory dedicated to experimental psychology. Eventually, he began to train students who would go on to bring the study of psychology to other countries.
Edward Titchener was one of Wundt’s students. He brought psychology from Europe to the United States, and created the first psychology laboratory there at Cornell University in 1892. Titchener is well known as being the father of the Structuralism, the opposing view to Functionalism, founded by William James.
Freud, probably being the most well known psychologist, was the founder of the psychodynamic perspective in psychology. Although much of Freud’s work is no longer thought to have much real-life application, his work has been hugely influential over psychology’s history, and still is today. Indeed, Freud tends to pop up in most disciplines of psychology, especially developmental psychology.
Pavlov, another well known name in psychology’s history, was a behavioural psychologist, and is well known as the pioneer of classical conditioning. John Watson, however, is attributed with the title of founder of the behaviourist perspective. Similar to Pavlov’s research into conditioning, B. F. Skinner explored another method of conditioning called operant conditioning, based on the research of Edward Thorndike.
Though there are many, many more figures in the history of psychology, the aforementioned psychologists are some of the most influential and important figures in psychology’s history.
Information for this post was taken from the textbook Psychology and Life.
Eysenck is especially well-known for his classification of personality-types. He divided people into four broad types: Extrovert-Stable, Extrovert-Unstable, Introvert-Stable and Introvert-Unstable. These types are fairly self-apparent in our daily lives, so no surprises there. However, he found that certain types are drawn to particular subjects of study, works of art and political affiliations in markedly predictable ways - and that is where things become really interesting.
Extrovert-Unstable people are, according to Eysenck, more prone to insanity, extremism and authoritarianism than other personality types. Again, this is pretty much what we would expect. However, Eysenck soon found that his intellectual opponents in British universities were typically sociology students, many of whom resorted to threats of violence against him. Further research confirmed his hunch that students drawn to sociology were overwhelmingly Unstable-Extroverts, very seldom Stable-Introverts.
The McGurk effect
These are really beautiful… The process of diffusion direction imaging is a quite stunning method of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI [the nuclear part was dropped due to public fear of the term]) which can actually map brain pathways (our thoughts, reflexes, and neuronal tracts) in space. This is called tractography. It’s strikingly pretty and illustrates just a fraction the unfathomable complexity of our brains.
ScienceDaily (Mar. 8, 2012) — UT Southwestern Medical Center investigators have identified a genetic manipulation that increases the development of neurons in the brain during aging and enhances the effect of antidepressant drugs.
UT Southwestern Medical Center investigators have identified a genetic manipulation that increases the development of neurons in the brain during aging and enhances the effect of antidepressant drugs. (Credit: © rolffimages / Fotolia)
The research finds that deleting the Nf1 gene in mice results in long-lasting improvements in neurogenesis, which in turn makes those in the test group more sensitive to the effects of antidepressants.
“The significant implication of this work is that enhancing neurogenesis sensitizes mice to antidepressants — meaning they needed lower doses of the drugs to affect ‘mood’ — and also appears to have anti-depressive and anti-anxiety effects of its own that continue over time,” said Dr. Luis Parada, director of the Kent Waldrep Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration and senior author of the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Just as in people, mice produce new neurons throughout adulthood, although the rate declines with age and stress, said Dr. Parada, chairman of developmental biology at UT Southwestern. Studies have shown that learning, exercise, electroconvulsive therapy and some antidepressants can increase neurogenesis. The steps in the process are well known but the cellular mechanisms behind those steps are not.
“In neurogenesis, stem cells in the brain’s hippocampus give rise to neuronal precursor cells that eventually become young neurons, which continue on to become full-fledged neurons that integrate into the brain’s synapses,” said Dr. Parada, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, its Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The researchers used a sophisticated process to delete the gene that codes for the Nf1 protein only in the brains of mice, while production in other tissues continued normally. After showing that mice lacking Nf1 protein in the brain had greater neurogenesis than controls, the researchers administered behavioral tests designed to mimic situations that would spark a subdued mood or anxiety, such as observing grooming behavior in response to a small splash of sugar water.
The researchers found that the test group mice formed more neurons over time compared to controls, and that young mice lacking the Nf1 protein required much lower amounts of anti-depressants to counteract the effects of stress. Behavioral differences between the groups persisted at three months, six months and nine months. “Older mice lacking the protein responded as if they had been taking antidepressants all their lives,” said Dr. Parada.
“In summary, this work suggests that activating neural precursor cells could directly improve depression- and anxiety-like behaviors, and it provides a proof-of-principle regarding the feasibility of regulating behavior via direct manipulation of adult neurogenesis,” Dr. Parada said.
Dr. Parada’s laboratory has published a series of studies that link the Nf1 gene — best known for mutations that cause tumors to grow around nerves — to wide-ranging effects in several major tissues. For instance, in one study researchers identified ways that the body’s immune system promotes the growth of tumors, and in another study, they described how loss of the Nf1 protein in the circulatory system leads to hypertension and congenital heart disease.
Source: Science Daily