What is Synesthesia?
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It sounds like a strange dream, but it's true-- people with synesthesia experience two or more of the 5 senses simultaneously. Watch this video to learn more abouto synesthesia.
Transcript: Synesthesia involves experiencing at least two or more of the five senses at the same time, with one...
Synesthesia involves experiencing at least two or more of the five senses at the same time, with one sense involuntarily causing a sensation in another. Synesthesia, meaning "to perceive together," is derived from the Greek, with the first scientific reports of Synesthetes, referred to as "seers"-made in 1883 by anthropologist and explorer Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin. Galton noticed Synesthesia appeared to run in families, which research from the U.S. and England actually confirms. However, Synesthetic perceptions are unique to each person. Russian novelist Vladimir Nabokov, best known for his novel, Lolita, described the sensation of Synesthesia, writing that the sound of a long A in English "has for me the tint of weathered wood, but a French A evokes polished ebony." Similarly, American composer George Gershwin, most famous for his "Rhapsody in Blue," saw notes in color, while French symbolist Arthur Rimbaud's poem "Voyelles," expresses his perception of colored vowel sounds. A Synesthesia study involving participants who had been blind for at least 10 years, but possessed colored-hearing Synesthesia their entire lives determined visual areas of the brain remain active despite blindness. They reported "seeing" the same color in response to sound. Most Synesthetes experience it uni-directionally. For example, tastes may produce sounds, but sounds don't produce taste. In rare cases, some Synesthetes have bi-directional Synesthesia, where music may elicit color, and colors elicit sounds. Perceptions aren't consciously thought out; they're simply there. A Synesthete who associates the name "Matt" with the color blue will remember the person's name as blue, rather than "Matt." While it's unknown how many people live with Synesthesia, estimates range from one in 200 people to one in 100,000. Researchers agree that women exhibit it more often than men. For more information about mental health topics, please see other videos on this site.More »
Last Modified: 2014-01-21 | Tags »
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What is conversion disorder? This little-known condition, previously thought to be a form of hysteria, comes from psychological stress triggered by a traumatic event. Watch this video to learn more about this perplexing condition.
Transcript: You may be unfamiliar with Conversion Disorder, a condition in which a person has blindness, paralysis,...
You may be unfamiliar with Conversion Disorder, a condition in which a person has blindness, paralysis, or neurological symptoms that cannot be explained, but physicians have been writing about this condition since fourth century, BC! Until the twentieth century, Conversion Disorder was known by the more colloquial term, hysteria. Greece's famous physician, Plato, believed that hysteria was exclusive to females and that it stemmed from a woman's uterus wandering throughout her body. Women experiencing Plato's hysteria developed a myriad of symptoms, ranging from spasms to extreme nervousness. But when the twentieth century rolled around, psychologist Sigmund Freud changed the thinking regarding hysteria. The condition got its NEW name, Conversion Disorder, because Freud believed it was a condition in which psychological stress is converted into real, physical symptoms. Today, Freud's Conversion Disorder is considered a real medical diagnosis, while hysteria is no longer recognized. For a person with modern-day Conversion Disorder, psychological stress is triggered by a traumatic event or a mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety. That MENTAL duress is then displayed suddenly and unexpectedly as a PHYSICAL problem. Commonly, Conversion Disorder manifests as paralysis in an arm or leg inability to speak, or difficulty swallowing and vision problems ranging from double vision to blindness. Other Conversion Disorder symptoms can include hallucinations, numbness, blindness, or seizures. It's important to understand that while these real symptoms are DEFINITELY present in sufferers, there is NO physical, medical explanation for why they occur. Some doctors falsely believe that conversion disorder and similar disorders are not real conditions, and may tell patients that the problem is "all in your head." However, these conditions ARE real! They cause distress and cannot be turned on and off at will. Research on the mind-body connection may eventually increase understanding of these disorders. That means that a physician must rule out ALL other causes of a person's symptoms before diagnosing Conversion Disorder. Generally, females are more likely to have this condition. Although, contrary to the old hysteria beliefs, males can experience it as well! People are more at risk for a conversion disorder if they also have a medical illness, dissociative disorder, or personality disorder. As well, a history of physical or sexual abuse or living in a culture of poverty may also increase the likelihood of developing the disorder. The good news is that MOST people with Conversion Disorder get better with a doctor's reassurance that there is nothing PHYSICALLY wrong with them. Psychotherapy and stress management training may help reduce symptoms. The affected body part or physical function will need physical or occupational therapy until the symptoms disappear. For example, paralyzed limbs must be exercised to prevent muscle wasting. Hypnosis may also be used to help identify the condition's genesis, because there is relief from Conversion Disorder, and because treatment can be relatively simple it's important to talk to a doctor if you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of this condition.More »
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What is dissociative amnesia? This memory loss is not caused by brain damage, but occurs when the mind blocks out memories as a result of traumatic events. Watch this video to learn more about dissociative amnesia.
Transcript: In the action-packed Bourne Trilogy, Matt Damon's character, Jason Bourne, loses all memory of his past...
In the action-packed Bourne Trilogy, Matt Damon's character, Jason Bourne, loses all memory of his past self. Just how common is amnesia like this? Amnesia is a condition in which certain memories are lost or become inaccessible. One type of amnesia occurs when a person mentally blocks out certain information, usually as a result of emotional shock, stress, or trauma. This was once known as psychogenic amnesia, and is known today as dissociative amnesia. Traumatic events that can lead to dissociative amnesia include: military combat, natural disasters, terrorist acts, and physical or sexual abuse. Jason Bourne, of the Bourne Identity books and films, was tormented by merciless government training and work-related trauma, suffered from this type of amnesia. For Bourne, intense dissociative amnesia caused a complete loss of all sense of identity and history. This rare condition is called a fugue state, and it usually only lasts a few hours or days. More often, dissociative amnesia includes gaps in memory for large spans of time, or missing memories surrounding the precipitating traumatic event. It's important to understand that dissociative amnesia is different from organic amnesia, in which brain damage or injury is directly responsible for the loss of memory. In dissociative amnesia, memories are not really lost. Instead, they are buried deep within the mind. These memories may resurface on their own, or may be triggered by a person's surroundings. It makes sense that dissociative amnesia can cause a great deal of hardship, and may lead to depression or anxiety. For this reason, it's important to seek help from a doctor if symptoms of the condition are present. A physician will rule out physical illness or medication side effects before referring a patient to a mental health professional for treatment. The goal of treatment is to help a person safely access and express painful memories. Psychotherapy, which involves one-on-one communication with a therapist, is one option. Another is clinical hypnosis, in which doctor-induced relaxation causes a patient to reach a heightened state of awareness. While there are no medications specifically approved to treat amnesia, patients suffering from anxiety or depression may benefit from drugs that treat these conditions. For most people with dissociative amnesia, memory returns with time. Although it took three films and seven novels, even Jason Bourne regained his missing memories in the end!More »
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Many people who have lost a limb experience phantom limb pain. Watch this video to learn what phantom limb pain is and how it can be treated.
Transcript: For somewhere between 50 and 80-percent of people who have undergone an amputation, this is a very real...
For somewhere between 50 and 80-percent of people who have undergone an amputation, this is a very real experience. Known as phantom limb disorder, phantom limb pain, or simply PLP, this post-op phenomenon occurs most often in people who lose an arm or a leg. Phantom pain may also follow the removal of other body parts including the breast, penis, or eye. No matter what body part is amputated, the condition manifests as recurrent pain in that spot. Some people also report other sensations, like cramping and tingling in the phantom part. Doctors once thought PLP was a psychological condition, brought on by a patient's grief over the lost limb or body part. They now believe that these feelings more likely stem from the central nervous system. Researchers think that if this is true, PLP may be explained by confused nerve endings at the site of the amputation, which continue to send pain signals to the brain even after the limb is removed. Or they think it could be due to the brain re-routing the missing limb's sensory input to another area of the body, such as from a missing foot to a real hip. In a case like this, any stimulation to the hip would also be felt in the phantom foot. Because its cause is unclear, phantom limb pain is difficult to treat. Doctors may prescribe antidepressants, like Elavil, and anticonvulsants like Topamax or Neurontin, which minimize the transmission of pain signals. Experimental therapies may help treat PLP. Common options include acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, a procedure where weak electrical currents are sent to the area of discomfort, in the hopes of dulling pain signals. Hypnosis, massage and relaxation techniques are also options that may help ease PLP. Despite the existence of these treatment options, a recent survey found that, some 53-percent of amputation patients don't seek out help for the problem. Don't be among them! If you're about to undergo an amputation, or you've recently experienced one, talk to your doctor about phantom limb pain.More »
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