Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Thinking?

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Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Thinking?

Postby Tim Hebert » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:20 am

Most of you only know me as "The former SAC Missile Crew Commander" dealing mostly with UFOs and nuclear ICBMs, yet few may know that I've been involved with the psychiatric health care system for the fast 16 years, all with inpatient care. I have a little case history to present (informally).

Recently I cared for an elderly 87 year old female patient admitted for severe anxiety and panic attacks. For all practical reasoning this patient was alert and oriented to name, time and place. Well stable concerning medical issues. Some what socially out going, though did have difficult time with interacting with our other patients. I observed that she was predominantly reclusive to her room, yet at times briefly would come out into the milieu (day room activities/environment).

Upon reading her History and Physical (H&P), I noticed where the patient's daughter had expressed concerns of recent belief systems regarding government conspiracies and expressing thoughts that there were secret bases on the moon. This caught my eye, yet not surprisingly, glossed over by the attending physician as he never mentioned nor appeared to press the patient on this ideation on any subsequent chart notes.

Later that night, the patient asked me to help her with getting her radio set up for a particular radio program...C2C. Immediately, the meaning of that small segment of the H&P became evident of the source of this lady's thought content. What follows was the patient's answers to questions that I politely and in a social manner put to her:

1. She always listens to her radio vs. that of watching TV.
2. She listens to C2C regularly.
3. Richard Hoagland was her favorite guest of C2C and was intrigued with his theories. (This accounts for daughter's recent concerns)
4. Hoagland's "Dark Mission" was her favorite book. (Further cementing the source of her daughter's concerns)

Further questions of mine evoked a belief of absolute faith in Hoagland's assertion of ancient moon bases by alien civilizations and the companion belief that the government was withholding this information to the public. During my interview, I had asked the patient if she had sought out other explainations concerning Hoagland's theories. Her replies were always polite yet showing of absolute faith in Hoagland's views.

So my question for the readers to ponder:

1. Does this woman suffer from a delusional disorder? If so, tell me why.

Tim
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby nablator » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:56 pm

I don't think so. From her point of view there is compelling evidence. Hoagland poses as a scientist and NASA consultant so the argument from false authority works for him. His book looks good to the uncritical eye: he presents actual NASA imagery of the Moon and Mars to support his fantasies of glass castles, severed C3PO head and Martian architecture. Yes, they are obvious photographic artifacts and pareidolia, but Occam's razor was never too popular.
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:19 pm

Good answer Nabs! Below is a good definition from wikipedia:
A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence.[1] Unlike hallucinations, delusions are always pathological (the result of an illness or illness process).[1] As a pathology, it is distinct from a belief based on false or incomplete information, dogma, poor memory, illusion, or other effects of perception.


The patient was not being treated for a delusional disorder, but was treated for an anxiety disorder. The patient's daughter was unaware of the source of her mother's belief, thereby, believing that her mother made it all up. The attending physician never made note of these thought contents because the patient did not perseverate on it. She only brought it up when I politely inquired during an interview session. In other words C2C/Hoagland did not cognitive-wise over rule her daily routine. She simply found pleasure listening to the program and thoroughly enjoyed the program. Simply, it was good entertainment for an elderly widowed woman.

I hold that her belief in moon bases and ancient alien lunar civilizations simply suffered from incomplete information due to her only quoting from one source: C2C/Hoagland. But in the end, the patient was not delusional.

I'll provide another case study soon. BTW, if your wondering, there is a point to all of this which I will reveal after the end of my case studies. You may actually figure that out as we go along.

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby nablator » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:14 am

This is very interesting. Thank you very much Tim for bringing this up. When do beliefs qualify as delusions ? Maybe in extreme cases, when they are so nutty that there is no excuse? Or when they are enough other symptoms to diagnose a pathology? Are David Icke's supporters delusional, and Hoagland's simply victim of his brand of snake oil ? Hard to say where exactly to draw the line.

Collective (or mass) delusions are sometimes defined as "the spontaneous, rapid spread of false or exaggerated beliefs within a population at large, temporarily affecting a particular region, culture, or country" ?
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/mass_delu ... millennium

Hmmm. If individual false beliefs are not necessarily delusions, how can collective false beliefs be delusions?

There is nothing pathologic about beliefs per se. Most of the time beliefs develop because there is absolutely no evidence to the contrary, (go ahead and prove a negative...) so it's human nature to err on the side of belief, without any pathology.

Most so called mass delusions should be called collective illusions (exactly the same words are used in French, incidentally, since there is no word for delusion).

Illusion:
2. The condition of being deceived by a false perception or belief.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/illusion
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:23 am

A good description of an illusion for psychiatric purposes would be a person sitting in front of the television and then stating that his name was being mentioned in the program. (assuming that the individual has no personal connection to the program in question)

Or, while listening to the radio a person believes that the radio is speaking directly to him.

The above is totally different from hallucinations because hallucinations deal strictly with the senses (sight, hearing, touch, and smell) misinterpretation or distorted perception of reality.

The general rule of "thumb" is that perception is reality regardless of ones mental state. Even the paranoid schizophrenic makes an "honest" attempt to interpret his/her environment.

American psychologist Julian Jaynes proposed that ancient man was basically a walking functional schizophrenic whose auditory hallucinations developed into a mechanism the hear and talk to God, spirits, animals, and what ever deities were in vogue depending on the culture (Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek, etc). Jaynes coined this condition as the "bicameral mind."

Jaynes wrote that ancient humans before roughly 1200 BC were not reflectively meta-conscious and operated by means of automatic, nonconscious habit-schemas. Instead of having meta-consciousness, these humans were constituted by what Jaynes calls the "bicameral mind". For bicameral humans, when habit did not suffice to handle novel stimuli and stress rose at the moment of decision, neural activity in the "dominant" (left) hemisphere was modulated by auditory verbal hallucinations originating in the so-called "silent" (right) hemisphere (particularly the right temporal cortex), which were heard as the voice of a chieftain or god and immediately obeyed
.

and...

Jaynes wrote, "[For bicameral humans], volition came as a voice that was in the nature of a neurological command, in which the command and the action were not separated, in which to hear was to obey."[1] Jaynes argued that the change from bicamerality to consciousness (linguistic meta-cognition) occurred over a period of centuries beginning around 1200 BC. The selection pressure for Jaynesian consciousness as a means for cognitive control is due, in part, to chaotic social disorganizations and the development of new methods of behavioral control such as writing.


Jaynes' theory was and still is controversial, but I find it interesting as one way to look at neural-cognitive functionality from a molecular/physiological standpoint as the human brain evolved.

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:29 pm

Regarding Jaynes' bicameral theory, I have to recheck, but I'm not aware that he took into account the "Dopamine Surge Theory." The increase production of the neurotransmitter dopamine (mid-brain region) has been viewed as a causation of the psychosis seen in schizophrenia.

I've seen good evidence for this theory as one of my patients had been misdiagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and started on the drug Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa which increase neural dopamine levels.) This patient became severely psychotic, ie, experiencing auditory/visual hallucinations, delusional with paranoid ideation. What brought him to my unit was a failed suicide attempt (attempted to cut his own throat with a steak knife). After stopping the Sinemet doses and starting an anti-psychotic drug regimen, the patient gradually improved to the point of regaining full cognitive functionality and discharging from my unit.

Perhaps ancient man had a naturally occurring high level of dopamine which increased auditory hallucinations during high periods of stress?

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby nablator » Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:12 pm

Tim Hebert wrote:Perhaps ancient man had a naturally occurring high level of dopamine which increased auditory hallucinations during high periods of stress?

I don't know about that. Is there evidence that ancient man (only a few thousand years ago) was any different from modern man? And, more important question, did the ancients listen to C2C? :)

My father takes medication for some kind of progressive neural disease without any success. He's very confused, mixes up reality, false memories and dreams (or hallucinations). Every time I see him the disease progresses a bit... :(
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:41 am

Second case study:

An 83 year old widowed woman was admitted onto my unit secondary to her neighbors raising concerns due to her bizarre behaviors: talking to her self, poor nutritional intake/self care deficits, hoarding, neglecting to pay her utility bills and calling the police stating that "people" are coming into her house to steal her food. The local police were called by her concerned neighbors and brought the her to my hospital's emergency department.

On admission, she is calmly sitting in her room. She is alert, presents with a pleasant but superficial guarded demeanor. She is aware of her name, the current day/month/year, aware of what hospital she is in, and the city which the hospital is located. She does express concerns as to why she is in the hospital as she denies any issues and does not know why the police removed her from her home. She further expresses concerns that people may try to break into her house while she is in the hospital.

A check of her personal belongings reveal miscellaneous clothing, a purse, one pair of slippers, and an object that resembles a "Tootsie Roll Pop" ie, small ball-like object with a stick/tube attached.

When asked the purpose of the object, she stated that it was a device that allows her to communicate with aliens from another planet. When asked what planet these aliens are from she states that she does not know for certain. She further stated that she used the device numerous times a day as the aliens provide her with advice and are able to warn her of impending trouble.

She was given the diagnosis of Psychosis NOS, Rule Out Dementia

The first couple of days on the unit were uneventful as she appeared to have settled in to the unit's routine. On the third day she started to make request for two to three cartons of milk with her meals. She stated that the extra milk was important for her "two babies." Further questioning revealed that she was of the strong opinion that she was pregnant and carrying twins. When I asked her if she thought it irrational for an 83 year old woman to be pregnant, she told me that she thought that someone her age being pregnant was indeed impossible, but she had been blessed by God and felt with total certainty that she would soon deliver the twins.

On one particular evening I heard her having a conversation with someone in her room. On entering her room, I found her seated by the room' window facing an empty chair. I told her that I thought that someone else was in her room. She stated that she was having a conversation with her husband (she gestured towards the empty chair). When I reminded her that her husband had been dead for fifteen years, she smiled and said that she was aware but that husband "dropped by" from time to time to check on her. Then she abruptly dismissed me from her room stating that I had interrupted a private conversation between her and her husband and there was more that she had to discuss with him.

Based on what I have presented above, does this woman have delusional thoughts?

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby nablator » Tue Jan 17, 2012 12:41 pm

Of course! Even if hallucinations are not always pathological (because of drugs, dehydration, etc.), in this case they are, obviously.

My dad (86) has had vivid hallucinations quite often. He was "normal" most of the time until recently. Now he is more or less confused about everything.
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Tue Jan 17, 2012 6:57 pm

nablator wrote:My dad (86) has had vivid hallucinations quite often. He was "normal" most of the time until recently. Now he is more or less confused about everything

I'm sorry to hear that concerning your father. I'm sure that it has been a difficult time with your family.

nablator wrote:Of course! Even if hallucinations are not always pathological (because of drugs, dehydration, etc.), in this case they are, obviously

This case shows the pathology of the delusional state. Actually, ideations concerning her being "pregnant" had been an on-going issue for a number of years. In reviewing additional history from a family member, she had never had children due to a medical condition that precluded her from conceiving. She had always wanted children so over a period of time she convinced herself that she was pregnant and the delusion became "fixed", hence the inability to convince her otherwise. The psychotic state only made the thoughts more prevalent.

Whether her talking to her dead husband constituted a visual/auditory hallucinations or just an extension of her delusional state is still an interesting question.

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby m0r1arty » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:47 pm

I think we have to be careful here (Also sorry to be late to the party!)

Dealing with particular cases, and moreso finding out more about them afterwards, is difficult.

Much like the preacher who holds back or plans for releasing information later we are scurrying down the path of knee-jerk or impulsive reactions without knowing more of the story.

On top of that having personal associations, be it work or family related, muddies the waters of objectivity when approaching cases.

As for people having their delusional thinking fostered further by external sources which make money from their expression...it's an obvious "spot on!".

This goes as far as fashion, music, movies and politics (as well as many other common place things).

I feel that keeping people away from properly 'delusional' thought which may harm them or others - such as the end of the world or aliens saving souls - should be a lawful framework which prohibits any form of financial gain but allows for it in a more general abstract sense.

Anywho's - glad to see this in this section of the forums and hope we can see more examples of purposeful thought being derailed by those who wish to profit by it. Be it religion or UFOlogy or any of the many other cults out there - let's snare them badly!

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:00 pm

m0r1arty wrote:I think we have to be careful here (Also sorry to be late to the party!)

Dealing with particular cases, and moreso finding out more about them afterwards, is difficult.

Much like the preacher who holds back or plans for releasing information later we are scurrying down the path of knee-jerk or impulsive reactions without knowing more of the story.

On top of that having personal associations, be it work or family related, muddies the waters of objectivity when approaching cases.

If you go back to the original posting I stated that there was a particular purpose to this exercise. The two cases that I presented were actual cases that I dealt with, but both were significantly different.

Coast to Coast did not cause any delusional ideations with the first case. I contend that programs and forums that tend to cater to the "unusual" have no causative effects on one's state of mind since that "state" was already inplace. I listen to the program from time to time just to see who's talking about what.

The second case was true delusional ideation. I used this as a contrast to show the pathology of the delusional state.

Why the subject matter? From time to time skeptics and Ufologist banter around the term "delusional" to describe one another's opposing view points. I find it irritating to see people acting as if they are psychologist/psychiatrist rendering a BS diagnosis on each other when no one knows what the term "delusional" actually means and in what proper context to use it.

Frank Warren, in an ATS thread, labeled me as "cognitively biased." Interesting phrase, yet may actually describe why I hold my views, yet Frank seems to ignore a subset for cognitive bias...egocentric bias, which well defines Frank and his merry group of posters. I use Frank as an example of those who casually throw out the psychological labels in attempts to deflect criticism directed towards his/their points of view.

Thus ends my exercise.

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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Luck » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:09 am

Tim,
You even mentioned Jaynes, whose book I really liked and I missed it! :cry:

I am not familiar with the Dopamine Surge Theory and will have to look into it. I also know that certain nutritional deficiencies can present rather severely in the elderly; I think it was a severe deficiency in B12 that can lead to psychosis, I think.

But yes, I do see the difference. One was misinformed, but her perception was based on information obtained from C2C/Hoagland, an external source. In the other case, there was no such external stimuli or information that could account for the patient's belief structure.
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Tim Hebert » Sat Jan 28, 2012 6:38 pm

Luck wrote:You even mentioned Jaynes, whose book I really liked and I missed it

I'm going to try and secure a copy. Some years ago, I read Jaynes' theory and admittedly "scoffed" at it. But the more that I've read the literary works from antiquity and comparing the various cognitive theories, I've become more intrigued by Jaynes' views.

Simply, "The Dopamine Surge Theory" states that the symptoms of Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders can be attributed to the abnormally high levels of dopamine flooding the neuronal synapses. This induces audio/ visual hallucinations and certain pathological paranoia states.

Most anti-psychotic drugs (Seroquel, Zyprexa, Geodon, and others) regulate neural dopamine levels.

I think t
Tim Hebert wrote:I've seen good evidence for this theory as one of my patients had been misdiagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and started on the drug Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa which increase neural dopamine levels.) This patient became severely psychotic, ie, experiencing auditory/visual hallucinations, delusional with paranoid ideation. What brought him to my unit was a failed suicide attempt (attempted to cut his own throat with a steak knife). After stopping the Sinemet doses and starting an anti-psychotic drug regimen, the patient gradually improved to the point of regaining full cognitive functionality and discharging from my unit

This may be the best example that I've personaly encountered supporting the theory.

I have a suspicion that momentary influx of dopamine may actually occur normally, inducing a brief psychotic event, then subsiding, for a select portion of the population. This could account for UFO sightings/abductions and other perceived paranormal events. I'll have to do a data search and see if others have looked into this area. (I'm not one to think that my ideas are original)
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Re: Coast to Coast Radio Program: Fostering Delusional Think

Postby Luck » Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:36 am

Tim Hebert wrote:I'm going to try and secure a copy. Some years ago, I read Jaynes' theory and admittedly "scoffed" at it. But the more that I've read the literary works from antiquity and comparing the various cognitive theories, I've become more intrigued by Jaynes' views.


I was fortunate enough to read Jaynes' book a couple of years ago and it was one of those books that just blew me away. If I remember correctly, Jayne argued that sentience doesn't always equate to consciousness. Interestingly enough, I have a family member that doesn't really seem to be conscious. I think Jayne provided some arguments for how that could occur (which pretty much clinched the validity (edit: perhaps persuasiveness is better choice of words here) is of his arguments for me).

Tim Hebert wrote:Simply, "The Dopamine Surge Theory" states that the symptoms of Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders can be attributed to the abnormally high levels of dopamine flooding the neuronal synapses. This induces audio/ visual hallucinations and certain pathological paranoia states.


Surprisingly there is very little out there on dopamine surge, but I thought I came across something last night that it can occur during times of duress (so a theoretical example would be: your crops get flooded and god talks to you). I know my example is an oversimplification, but still plausible. It is a mechanism worth considering, and may not be incompatible with Jaynes, but that would take some more research.

Tim Hebert wrote:I have a suspicion that momentary influx of dopamine may actually occur normally, inducing a brief psychotic event, then subsiding, for a select portion of the population. This could account for UFO sightings/abductions and other perceived paranormal events. I'll have to do a data search and see if others have looked into this area. (I'm not one to think that my ideas are original)


I think that you should pursue this as a line of inquiry. After reading Jaynes, I began to wonder if some (if not all) of perceived paranormal events are just glitches occurring within the brain. I think anyone refusing to consider that possibility probably shouldn't be taken seriously.

edit: Jaynes originally published his book in 1976, so could it be that the roles of the neurotransmitters were not yet well known? I don't recall that he extended his discussion to the role of neurotransmitters in his book.
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