Entries in Psychosis (4)


‘Kony 2012′ Director Treated for Psychosis

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire(NEW YORK) -- Nearly a week after Jason Russell’s public meltdown, the “Kony 2012″ director is still in the hospital undergoing treatment for “brief reactive psychosis,” according to his wife, who blamed the break on extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration.

“Though new to us, the doctors say this is a common experience given the great mental, emotional and physical shock his body has gone through in these last two weeks,” Danica Russell said in a statement. ”Even for us, it’s hard to understand the sudden transition from relative anonymity to worldwide attention – both raves and ridicules, in a matter of days.”

Russell, 33, was taken to a mental health facility for observation last Thursday after onlookers reported him roaming naked through the streets of San Diego’s Pacific Beach neighborhood, possibly masturbating, and pounding his fists on the sidewalk. Videos obtained by TMZ show an agitated Russell ranting to himself, bizarre behavior his wife blamed on criticism of his documentary film about African warlord Joseph Kony.

“Because of how personal the film is, many of the attacks against it were also very personal, and Jason took them very hard,” she said.

Russell’s 30-minute documentary has racked up more than 84 million views on YouTube since it was posted March 5. Supporters signed an online pledge through Invisible Children, a charity that Russell co-founded, to bring Kony to justice. But critics say the film oversimplifies a complex problem and promotes “slacktivism,” action that does little to fix the problem.

According to the National Institutes of Health, brief reactive psychosis is triggered by extreme stress, such as a traumatic event or the loss of a loved one. The symptoms, which include delusions, hallucinations and strange speech, can last up to a month, and the person may be completely unaware of them.


Alan Hilfer, chief psychologist at Maimonides Medical Center in New York City, said the backlash over Russell’s “Kony 2012″ campaign could have been traumatic enough to trigger the meltdown.

“He may not be as internally resilient as someone needs to be to weather a storm of criticism like that,” said Hilfer, who is not involved in Russell’s treatment. “It might have been such a tremendous injury to his ego that he just sort of fell apart.”

With the proper treatment and family support, Hilfer said a person could “put it back together again.” Talk therapy can help a person learn to cope with the stress that triggered the problem, according to the NIH.

Danica Russell said her husband had “a long way to go,” but she is confident he will make a full recovery.

“He is, and will remain, under hospital care for a number of weeks; and after that, the recovery process could take months before he is fully able to step back into his role with Invisible Children,” she said in a statement. “During that time, we will focus not on a speedy recovery, but a thorough one.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bedbug Infestations May Prompt Feelings of Anxiety, Paranoia

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bedbug infestations, and often the media frenzy surrounding the vermin, may increase the risk of mental health problems and exacerbate pre-existing psychiatric conditions, according to a new study.

"Bedbugs, mice, rats roaches -- they've bothered human beings, and they have been around for many, many years," Dr. Evan Rieder, a psychiatrist at New York University's Langone Medical Center and lead author of the study, told MedPage Today.  "But there's something about the sanctity of the bedroom and the bed and the fact that bedbugs are attracted to warmth and attracted to blood, because that's how they feed, that really violates something that's really personal to the human experience."

Only 10 people, ranging in age from 21 to 75, participated in the study, but the researchers presented a detailed review of six of the 10 cases at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Honolulu.  After a bedbug infestation, some participants experienced anxiety, depression, controlled bipolar disorder and monosymptomatic delusional disorder in which one imagines that bugs are crawling all over the skin.

For other participants, it didn't take an actual infestation to trigger anxiety and symptoms of paranoia.  Rieder said some of them exhibited tactile hallucinations.  Even though they did not have a history of an infestation nor a history of psychosis, the participants were convinced that bedbugs were crawling on their skin.  Rieder said the swirling media coverage surrounding the vermin may play a part in the paranoia that surrounds this condition.

"If you look at the media on a global basis, bedbugs are all over the place, and the incidence in the media, in newspapers, magazines, TV reports, has been going up steadily since the year 2001, so there may be some media-driven frenzy," Rieder told MedPage Today.

Any doctor seeing patients with bedbug infestation and pre-existing psychoses "should be on alert," Rieder said. "These people can decompensate even if they've been medically stable for a significant period of time."

Researchers said it's unclear why a bedbug infestation threatens the mental health of some more than others, but they hope to research the topic further, as bedbugs are not going away.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More than 200 US Mothers a Year Kill Their Children, Psychiatric Research Says

David Woolley/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Leshanda Armstrong, the 25-year-old who drove her van into the Hudson River Tuesday, drowning herself and three of her four children, is an enigma to psychiatrists who have little idea how mothers become murderers.

New York police have ruled it a murder-suicide. Only her 10-year-old son Leshawn escaped from a window in the sinking vehicle and swam 25 yards in cold waters to the shore.

More than 200 mothers a year kill their children, according to the American Anthropological Association, and little is known about maternal filicide.

In the last quarter of the 20th century among children under age five killed in the United States, about 61 percent died at the hands of parents -- about evenly split between mothers and fathers, according to research by Susan Friedman, a psychiatrist at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western.

The U.S. has one of the highest rates of child homicide compared with other nations -- an estimated eight per 100,000 infants. Canada, for example, has 2.9 per 100,000.

According to Friedman, there are typically five motives which might drive a parent to kill their child. The most common is a result of maltreatment or chronic abuse. Others include altruistic killing, when the parent is mentally ill or believes the child may be suffering. Another motive is seen in murders just after the birth of an unwanted child. Psychosis is another motivator. Rarely, a parent seeks revenge against a partner by killing their child in what is called "Medea syndrome."

Suicide murders are more often seen among fathers than mothers, but about 20 to 25 percent of women commit suicide within 24 hours of killing their children. Methods used by women are also "gentler," according to Friedman. "You are more likely to see strangling or many fatal blows among fathers."

"A good study out of New Zealand interviewed six moms who killed their children, presumably for altruistic or psychotic reasons and all said that being a good mother was important to them and bitterly regretted that the child had died when they were well," she said. "If they come back to their senses and sanity after treatment, it will be horribly traumatic for them, as well."

"I think they love their children, but many are mentally ill at the time," she said.

Police will never know if that was the case with Armstrong, who plunged her car into the water just 10 minutes after one of her relatives called 911 after hearing an argument over the phone at Armstrong's house.

Armstrong took her four children -- ages 10, 5, 2 and 11 months -- and drove the car off a boat ramp at about 7:50 p.m. in Newburgh, N.Y., a riverside town about 60 miles north of New York City.

Investigators call child-killers like Armstrong "family annihilators" for the way they take their own lives and those of their children, too, said Ken Lanning, who is retired from the FBI's science behavioral unit.

"I don't know the facts of the case, but this woman apparently decided to commit suicide and that could have been the result of any number of things -- clinical depression or the reality or perception that life was not worth living," he said. "The second issue is what does she do with her family? If she has young children, she has to decide what to do with them."

The fact that Armstrong had an infant suggests she may have had post-partum depression, according to Lanning.

"The point here is that it's a sad thing when these people kill themselves, but why take three or four kids with you?" he said. "Some mothers think, there is no one else to care for them and we will go to heaven together, if they strongly believe in they will be reunited in the hereafter. But it doesn't justify it or alleviate the fact that three innocent kids died."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Study Links Marijuana Use to Psychosis

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(THE NETHERLANDS) -- Marijuana may cause schizophrenia, according to a European study.

Almost 2,000 German participants ranging 14 to 24 years of age were monitored over a 10-year period for signs of psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.  None of them had a reported history of smoking pot or psychotic symptoms at the beginning of the study. 

The study participants were re-assessed after 3.5 years and again after 8.5 years for both marijuana use and psychotic symptom experiences.  The authors found that the participants who reported having smoked pot at 3.5 years into the study were 90 percent more likely to report experiencing psychotic symptoms during the later part of the study. 

Furthermore, those youths reporting continuous use throughout the study period were 2.2 times more likely to report persistent psychotic symptoms as well. 

Because pot use was reported before the onset of psychotic symptoms, the authors conclude that smoking pot can increase the risk of developing psychotic symptoms.

The study was released Tuesday by the British Medical Journal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio