Part 2 of 3: Targeted Trauma
Mental health is the only branch of medicine that treats severe and life threatening internal injuries and diseases without ever looking at the affected part of the body. Instead, the American Psychiatric Association continues to condone the practice of guessing at what the psychiatric problem is and then medicating the symptoms.
Brain scans are indispensable in assessing, diagnosing and treating most mental illness. In fact, the National Institute For Mental Health (NIMH), who funds most of the research for mental health in America, dismissed the DSM-V because it ignored the objective, clinical measures that brain scans provide to accurately diagnose and treat problems of the mind and the brain. For targeted parents, brain scans validate the interpersonal traumatic injuries that our children and we experience at the hands of our narcissistic/borderline ex-partners/parents and can alert the world to the severity of our plight. My experience is a case in point.
2009 was the year in which my closely attached son started to suppress his attachment to me. This was the most traumatic of all times. Of course, I began to search wildly for why I felt so terrified, confused, spacey, depressive and anxious. While researching my symptoms online, I took a survey that said that I was a good candidate for a brain scan (understatement). I wasn’t sure if I could just go buy one or if I could even afford one, but I knew that I had to find out what was wrong with me. If I could "see" what was broken, I thought I could figure out how to fix it. I compared the $ 2K price tag of a SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scan to the benefits of a concrete, accurate diagnosis and decided that it would be money well spent.
My first appointment was a bit weird. I met with Dr. Best for a brief conversation. After I answered a few of his questions he cocked his head to the side and asked me, “What are you doing here? You seem so…well look at you! You’re bright, articulate, you don’t look like you have a problem.” Then, one of his staff opened the door and dragged in my health history. The neuroscientist started thumbing through the documents and then quickly stood up and said, “OK, lets get you set up for a brain scan.”
Two weeks later I was back and met LuAnn, the lab tech. LuAnn took me back into a small room. I was followed by Dr. Best’s two German Shorthaired dogs, who didn’t think that I had a problem either. LuAnn administered a radioactive isotope and then we talked nonchalantly to pass the time as we waited for the isotope to get to my brain (or whatever).
I told her how long I had been struggling with depression and anxiety. I also told her that I “hadn’t felt like myself in such a long time that I thought that I’d forgotten who I really was.” LuAnn’s response was, “And this is the first time that you’re having a brain scan?” I retorted, “First! Am I going to have to have more than one? That’s not in the budget.” Still, I just had to know if I was as crazy as my ex-husband had always told me. I had to know why I couldn’t make decisions and why I was so emotional and foggy. I had to get my world turned right side up again by getting to the source of my muddled, insecure self.
As I let my mind wonder for a few minutes, I suddenly felt that familiar hyper-vigilance and fear spreading through my body. I heard LuAnn ask me if I was all right. The source of my fear became obvious and I looked back at LuAnn and asked,
“What if my brain scan shows that there isn't
Will that prove that I really am crazy?”
Two weeks later I returned and met with Dr. Best for my results. He was slow in getting to the point, but then he crossed his legs, leaned towards me and asked, “What the hell happened to your brain?” I was so relieved. Finally, I had proof that the problem was in my brain, not in my mind. Now this was something I could understand.
The conclusions based on these scans made sense to me even if I didn't know exactly what areas they were describing. I have paraphrased the results below.
1. Extreme or marked increase(in activity) in areas of the brain that are compatible with anxiety. Remember, I'm laying in a bed somewhere trying not to think of much, but areas of my brain are still registering as being hyperactive. The hyperactivecolors register dark red to black. The under-active parts are green and yellow.
2. The hyperactive thalamus (black spot in the middle) plus the under-active left orbital-frontal area (big green spot) is compatible with depression.
3. The blah blah blah right apico-mesial temporal blah blah blah extension to the pole blah blah blah indicates possible post traumatic etiology.
4. The marked localized areas blah blah occipital and frontal lobes blah blah blah may indicate origins of episodic events.