In an incredible Olympic performance, Great Britain returned in 4th place – well done to all the athletes! Dr Steve Peters, the coach for the olympic cycle team which achieved gold in the recent olympics has been extensively covered in the news. In this article (which however identifies him as a psychologist) Victoria Pendleton, the gold medallist in the olympic cycling sprint is quoted as describing him as “the most important person in my career”. The article also quotes Peter’s thoughts on anxiety in performance. SImilarly Chris Hoy is described as being prepared by Peters for several cyclists breaking the world record ahead of the olympics. In this article, Pendleton recounts his advice to her which she found very beneficial ‘never leave anything to chance…..never look at the outcome only the process’ (again Pendleton is quoted as referring to Peters as a psychologist). In the Daily Mail, Peters is once again a psychiatrist and some of his work with personality disordered offenders is mentioned. He is also quoted, commenting on the importance of understanding personality and psychology in order to fully understand mental illness. The Guardian’s article comments further on the training techniques with the identification of large numbers of ‘foundation stones’ – areas that the cyclists want to work on to improve their performance. He is also described as helping with relationships within the team demonstrating the importance of his many skills and talents.
‘The Truman Show’ delusion was reported on in this article – based on case studies where people believe their lives are similar to the character from the Truman show (STT2). In this film, Jim Carrey’s character is living in a television program and provides the ‘entertainment’ for television viewers following his life (unbeknown to him!). This is not the first time that a film has given rise to the label for a symptom – for instance ‘Groundhog Day Syndrome’ has previously been reported in which people misidentify time, believing that a day is repeating. The recent work done on religion and delusions in culture in Germany indicates that perhaps there is a relationship between culture and the content of delusions – a question posed in the above article. One article suggested a trend towards OCD occuring prior to schizophrenia when it was a comorbidity although the authors suggest a need for further research to examine this relationship.
A study in Biological Psychiatry showed equivalent efficacy of Vagus Nerve Stimulating devices in Unipolar and Bipolar Treatment Resistant Depression (STT3). A preliminatry study of Deep Brain Stimulation of the Subcallosal Cingulate Gyrus has shown benefit in treatment resistant depression with a 35% remission over 6 months although double-blind studies are required before firmer conclusions can be drawn (STT3). An intriguing application of N-Acetylcysteine, which is used in the treatment of paracetamol overdose, has been found to have some benefit in depression. N-Acetylcysteine is a precursor of Glutathione which is used in various cellular processes. Other research has found a reduction of Glutathione in depression although the relationship is probably far from straightforward (STT4). Research in Biological Psychiatry has further validated the concept of vascular depression in the elderly. The research showed remarkable specificity and sensitivity when using deep white matter lesions as criteria.
A study in Biological Study shows an association between depression and reduction in grey matter brain volume in areas related to cognition. The authors hypothesise this as a causal link between depression and cognitive impairment in elderly people (STT 4). An unfortunate case of somebody who had developed Creutzfeld Jacob Disease with Alzheimer’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia has been reported. CJD is extremely rare but the case report highlights cases where multiple pathology contributes to dementia.
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
An organisation working with vulnerable children, The Kids Company, are working together with the Institute of Psychiatry on research into the effects of trauma on children. In this article, there is an interesting comment on the funding that goes into supporting families with vulnerable children and the funding of superprisons, posing the question of whether it might be possible to prevent crime rather than manage it when it occurs by diverting resources.
Psychiatry and the Arts
The play Equus, starring Daniel Radcliffe, has finished in London and is now starting in Broadway, New York. The play, written by the brilliant playwright Peter Shaffer, focuses on Alan Strang, a teenager who blinds six horses and the psychiatrist who tries to understand his motives. Daniel Radcliffer is interviewed and describes how he draws an analogy with ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in preparing for his role. Dinah from Shrinkrap reviews a few novels including Run East: Flight from the Holocaust by Jack Pomerantz, Asking for Murder by Roberta Isleib (a psychologist writer), Playing for Pizza by John Grisham and Dreamland by Sarah Dessen.
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