Emerging Science Shows Evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also a Learning Disorder

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), initially called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), has little credible science showing the disorder actually exists beyond individuals (and their therapists) believing in it.

People who allege they suffer from multiple personalities, or alter selves, use scant neuroimaging studies to prove the psychiatric condition is real. They claim different personalities can be seen in the brain when the suffer changes to different personality states. Studies debunking that conclusion show that intentionally changing ones thoughts can also change brain images are ignored in favor of the multiple personality model.

Although neuroimaging tests repeatedly debunk the Dissociative Identity Disorder model, the DID community is not swayed to question results of studies supporting it. It’s unfortunate when therapists and their clients ignore scientific evidence in favor of belief systems – but they have a right to toss out science if they so choose.

The study below shows new evidence that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is both an anxiety disorder and a learning disorder.

I offer this study because professionals diagnosing Dissociative Identity Disorder use trauma as evidence that an abusive past likely occurred whether or not the trauma is actually known to the sufferer or believed to be buried deep in the psyche and, therefore, unknown.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often used attached to the DID diagnosis. If indeed, patients are incapacitated not only with anxiety from childhood sexual trauma but also a learning disability, how does that knowledge impact theories of multiple personalities and Dissociative Identity Disorder?

Dissociative Identity Disorder hinges in part on the belief that severe impairment in adulthood is linked to a physically and/or mentally abusive childhood. Will emerging research indicating that learning disabilities also occur in patients suffering from PTSD add to the disability seen in DID patients? I contend it will.

If science indicates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers are also learning disabled, the psychiatric disability net that snares individuals into the multiple personality diagnosis widens and will rein in more unsuspecting patients.

Attaching learning disabilities to the Dissociative Identity Disorder diagnosis will enable clinicians to bill insurance companies for compensation using PTSD. I suspect that few clinicians report DID as the primary diagnostic disorder on insurance claim forms – instead, PTSD, anxiety, depression, Bipolar DisorderBorderline Personality Disorder and other psychiatric categories are used because insurance companies are not allowing multiple personalities or DID to be compensated as they did in the 1980s before the disorder was debunked and shown to have caused grave harm to some patients.

I suspect the diagnosis of Learning Disorders via PTSD will increase in the near future as therapists attach it to Dissociative Disorders to gain credibility and monetary compensation for services rendered.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder show a selective deficit in generalization of associative learning.

Levy-Gigi, Einat; Kéri, Szabolcs; Myers, Catherine E.; Lencovsky, Zvi; Sharvit-Benbaji, Hadas; Orr, Scott P.; Gilbertson, Mark W.; Servatius, Richard J.; Tsao, Jack W.; Gluck, Mark A.
Neuropsychology, Vol 26(6), Nov 2012, 758-767. doi: 10.1037/a0029361

Abstract

Objective: Drawing on two different populations, Israeli police and Hungarian civilians, the present study assessed the ability of individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to generalize previous learning to novel situations.

Past neuroimaging studies have demonstrated diminished medial temporal lobe (MTL) activation and/or reduced hippocampal volume in individuals with PTSD. Our earlier computational models of cortico-hippocampal function and subsequent experimental tests of these models in MTL-impaired clinical populations argue that even mild hippocampal dysfunction may result in subtle impairments in generalization.

Therefore, we predicted that individuals with PTSD would show impaired generalization. Method: We compared the performance of five groups from two countries, including 19 Israeli police with PTSD and 22 trauma-exposed police without PTSD, and 22 Hungarian civilians with PTSD, 25 trauma-exposed civilians without PTSD, and 25 individuals without PTSD unexposed to the same trauma. Participants were tested on a two-phase learning paradigm, the Acquired Equivalence Task, which measures the ability to generalize past learning to novel situations.

Results: We found that both PTSD and non-PTSD participants were capable of learning the initial stimulus-outcome associations, F(4, 108) = 1.79, p = .14. However, as predicted, only individuals with PTSD showed a selective deficit in generalization of this learning to novel situations (F(4, 108) = 8.35, p < .001, Partial η2 = 0.26). Conclusions: Individuals with PTSD show a selective impairment in generalization of past learning similar to other clinical populations with MTL/hippocampal dysfunction.

This is consistent with an emerging view of PTSD as being not only an anxiety disorder but also a learning disorder.

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6 Comments

  1. Interesting.

    Now I’m wondering the chicken-or-the-egg question: which came first? Does aquiring PTSD cause brain changes which results in this type of learning disability, or was the learning disability pre-existent, and does the LD predispose a person to develop PTSD?

    I think one way to answer this question might be to do brain imaging studies on military personnel before they have been in combat, and repeat the studies after combat. It would be interesting, too, to see what, if any, differences could be determined between those who developed PTSD after being in combat, and those who were in combat and do not have PTSD.

    Lady Q

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    • Jeanette Bartha

       /  01/15/2013

      And, the entire premise could be bullshit.

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      • Once again, you’re thinking my thoughts.

        Is there a DSM label for that? 🙂

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        • Jeanette Bartha

           /  01/15/2013

          Probably 😉 If not, wait for the DSM-5 coming to a bookstore near you.

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          • Didn’t there used to be a “science” whereby a charlatan, I mean a doctor, could determine one’s personality by the ridges and bumps on a person’s head? Or am I getting that confused with palm reading?

            Must be a learning disability problem, that I can’t seem to keep these things straight.

            ((Hug))

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          • Jeanette Bartha

             /  01/16/2013

            oh, you are right. I think it’s phrenology. Why do I know this? I need that space in my brain for other information! lol.

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phrenology
            Definition of PHRENOLOGY
            : the study of the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character
            — phre·no·log·i·cal adjective
            — phre·nol·o·gist noun
            Origin of PHRENOLOGY
            Greek phren-, phrēn
            First Known Use: 1805

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