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Category Archives: Forensic Psychiatry

Do Astronauts Hallucinate?

It has long been known that isolation can lead to all sorts of psychological problems, including delusions and hallucinations. Prisoners in isolation, who have limited interaction with others, can suffer just such effects.

In medicine, we see it frequently. Someone has surgery, and then for whatever reason (complex surgical problems, complications, co-morbidities, etc.) must linger in the ICU for a few days. This is a form of isolation as they are limited in their activity and in who they see and talk with on a regular basis. Sort of like prison isolation. Not to mention they might be receiving medications for pain, sleep, or agitation, each of which can alter mental function. After as little as a couple of days, the person can become confused and disoriented and suffer delusions, such as everyone is trying to kill them, or they are being held prisoner and undergoing some alien experimentation, as well as hallucinations where they see, feel, and hear things that don’t exist. Seen it hundreds of times. It’s that common.

icu

It even has a name: ICU Psychosis.

Astronauts are in a similar situation. They spend months in an enclosed, monotonous environment, interacting with the same people, day after day. It’s like prison, or an ICU. Do they also develop delusions and hallucinations? It seems that the do. In fact, I would be surprised if they didn’t.

astronaut-moon

So, during a trip to Mars, where isolation is very real, could such psychiatric problems jeopardize the mission? You bet. NASA takes this seriously and has begun studies into such long-term deprivations.

HI-SEAS

MedNet: ICU Psychosis: http://www.medicinenet.com/icu_psychosis/article.htm

NIH: Intensive Care Unit Psychosis: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2154033/

Astronauts and Hallucinations: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/oct/05/hallucinations-isolation-astronauts-mental-health-space-missions

NASA Trains Astronauts to Bins, Tranquilize Unstable Crewmates: http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/02/25/nasa-trains-astronauts-to-bind-tranquilize-unstable-crewmates/

NASA Has Guidelines for Dealing With Psychosis in Space: http://www.utsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070224/news_lz1n24read.html

Mars One Astronaut Training Program: http://www.mars-one.com/faq/selection-and-preparation-of-the-astronauts/how-are-the-astronauts-prepared

NASA’s HI-SEAS Training Program: http://www.sci-news.com/space/science-nasas-hi-seas-team-hawaii-mars-mission-02220.html

 

Crime and Science Radio: Chasing Monsters; Running From Monsters: An Interview with Douglas Preston, Best-selling Author of The Monster Of Florence

Join Jan Burke and I on Crime and Science Radio Saturday morning 2-14-15 at 10 a.m. Pacific as we welcome Douglas Preston to the show for a lively discussion of the serial killer known as The Monster of Florence and Doug’s “adventures” while researching this story.

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BIO: Douglas Preston has published twenty-eight books, nonfiction and fiction, several of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. He writes for the New Yorker magazine and taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. His most recent nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a movie starring George Clooney. He is the co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Agent Pendergast series of novels

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2015/02/04/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-douglas-preston

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LINKS:

Douglas Preston’s Website: http://www.prestonchild.com

Crime Library: The Monster of Florence: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/predators/monster_florence/1.html

Florence Webguide: The Monster of Florence: http://www.florencewebguide.com/monster-of-florence.html

The Atlantic: The Monster of Florence: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/07/the-monster-of-florence/304981/6/

Biography: The Monster of Florence: http://www.biography.com/people/the-monster-of-florence-573530

Biography: Amanda Knox: http://www.biography.com/people/amanda-knox-20663285

Huffington Post: Knox and Sollecito: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-drizin/amanda-knox-and-raffaele-_b_4757435.html

The Coronado Expedition: http://arizonaexperience.org/remember/coronado-expedition

Coronado and the Seven Cities of Cibola: http://basementgeographer.com/coronado-and-the-seven-cities-of-cibola/

 
 

Crime and Science Radio: What You Did Here Told Me Who You Are: An Interview with former FBI Criminal Profiler Mark Safarik

On Crime and Science Radio  Saturday, January 17th and 10 a.m. Pacific Time, DP Lyle and Jan Burke will welcome special guest criminal profiler Mark Safarik and discuss what makes the bad guys tick. Killer Instinct BIO: Mark Safarik was a senior member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, during which time he established himself as an internationally recognized expert in the analysis and interpretation of violent criminal behavior. Mr. Safarik’s law enforcement career spans over 30 years, during which time he worked in all levels of police work, from working patrol as a beat cop to investigating murders as a detective.  But the defining moments in Mr. Safarik’s professional life came during his 23 years with the FBI, where he spent over half that time as a criminal profiler. Mr. Safarik led the consultation efforts on many high profile national and international violent crime cases and lectured at numerous foreign police forces around the world, sharing his expertise in the analysis of homicide and complex crime scene behavior. Mr. Safarik has a graduate degree from Boston University and is an adjunct faculty member at Boston College. He is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, a faculty member of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and an advisory board member at the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law.  He has conducted internationally renowned research on the sexual assault and homicide of elder females and received the prestigious Jefferson Medal from the University of Virginia for this groundbreaking work. He was presented with the Silver Medal from The Spanish Society of Criminology and Forensic Science, the first non-European to receive this honor. He is a member of the highly respected Vidocq Society, a criminological group that donates its investigative resources to solving cold case homicides. He is well-published in international journals, including the Journal of Forensic Sciences, International Journal of Homicide Studies. He has appeared on Dateline, Court TV, Forensic Files, New Detectives, MSNBC and The Discovery Channel to discuss his cases and analyses. His television series, Killer Instinct, is currently airing on the Biography Channel. Since 2008 he has been a  consultant for the popular television series CSI: Las Vegas and Bones. He has a new Cold Case Homicide show airing in 2015 in Sweden and begins filming a new Unsolved Homicide in Denmark in 2015.

LISTEN:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/12/07/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-mark-safarik

LINKS:

Forensic Behavioral Services International  http://fbsinternational.com

Robert K Ressler Memorial Page http://fbsinternational.com/in-memoriam/

The FBI Investigator Who Coined The Term “Serial Killer” http://www.npr.org/2013/12/29/258160192/the-fbi-investigator-who-coined-the-term-serial-killer

Killer Instinct Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7g4asGrGdYE

FBI Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/investigations-and-operations-support/briu

National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cirg/investigations-and-operations-support/investigations-operations-support#cirg_ba

Criminal Profiling: The Reality Behind the Myth http://www.apa.org/monitor/julaug04/criminal.aspx

Frequently asked questions about becoming an employee at the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime https://www.fbijobs.gov/611.asp

 

Is There A Genetic Basis For Violence?

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Is there a genetic make up that leads people to commit violent acts? Probably. Is it a simple “if this then that” connection? Not likely. But we are each a product of our genetic make up and our environment. That includes everything from medical issues such as heart disease and diabetes, to success in the arts such as music and writing, to our basic personality and the way we deal with others.

New research suggests that the elusive “warrior gene” might exist and it might result from defects in two genes: The MAOI gene and a variant of the cadherin 13 (CDH 13) gene.

Wish it were that simple but this is interesting research.

Here are few articles on this research:

BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29760212

Telegraph UK: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/11192643/Violence-genes-may-be-responsible-for-one-in-10-serious-crimes.html

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/two-genes-found-linked-to-tendency-for-violent-crime-9824061.html

Also, I posted on this back in June, 2010:

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/dangerous-dna-the-warrior-gene/

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2014 in Forensic Psychiatry, Medical Issues

 

Do the Phases of the Moon Alter Sleep Patterns and Behavior?

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The full moon makes people crazy. Don’t believe it? Ask any Emergency Room MD or nurse. Full moons always bring out the crazies and the most bizarre circumstances. Common things present in odd fashions; odd things become downright bizarre. Can’t prove that scientifically but experience suggest it’s a fact.

During my medical training at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, you could count on having a busy and eventful day (and night) during the full moon. If you added that to a payday weekend, you had a recipe for chaos. The “Friday-night Knife and Gun Club” was especially busy on pay weekends and under full moons.

Probably has to do with tidal shifts in the brain or something like that. Excess water in your brain pan is never a good thing.

One example is The Bean. He’s our Bengal cat. Nocturnal and noisy by nature, he often gets completely out of hand around the full moon. We call it Moon Bean.

The Bean

The Bean

Now research done at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden suggests that the cycles of the moon alter sleep patterns. If so, these cycles might also alter behavior. Poor sleep leads to poor decisions, labile emotions, altered perceptions (see previous post), reduced hand-eye coordination, diminished attention, and these can in turn lead to mistakes—-many of which will land you in the ER. Never a good place to be.

 
10 Comments

Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Forensic Psychiatry, Medical Issues

 

Does Lack of Sound Sleep Alter Memories And Perceptions?

alarm-clock

Ever had a dream so vivid that it seemed too real to be a dream? Or awakened all fuzzy headed after a night of fractured sleep? So fuzzy that you couldn’t remember where the coffee maker was? Of course you have. We all have.

But do altered sleep patterns effect your perception of reality? Cause a blurring of the boundary between dreams and real life? Create false memories? Maybe so.

A recent article by Art Markman, MD in Psychology Today discusses a study jointly done by the University of California, Irvine and Michigan State University where these relationships were explored. The study findings suggest that the sleep-deprived brain is not to be trusted.

Though no longer with us, The Nut had no such sleep or memory problems

Though no longer with us, The Nut had no such sleep or memory problems

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 20, 2014 in Forensic Psychiatry, Police Procedure

 

Crime and Science Radio: Inside The Creative Mind: An Interview With Psychotherapist, Screenwriter, and Novelist Dennis Palumbo

Join Jan Burke and DP Lyle on Saturday 10-18-14 at 10 a.m. Pacific as they discuss psychology and storytelling in both novels and on the screen with veteran screenwriter/novelists Dennis Palumbo

DPalumbo

BIO: Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), Dennis Palumbo is now a licensed psychotherapist and author of Writing From the Inside Out (John Wiley). His work helping writers has been profiled in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ and other publications, as well as on CNN, NPR and PBS. He also blogs regularly for The Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press). His acclaimed series of crime novels (Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors and the upcoming Phantom Limb) feature psychologist Daniel Rinaldi, a trauma expert who consults with the Pittsburgh Police.  All are from Poisoned Pen Press.

LISTENhttp://www.blogtalkradio.com/suspensemagazine/2014/09/30/crime-and-science-radio-with-special-guest-dennis-palumbo

LINKS:

Website: http://dennispalumbo.com

YOU SEE DEAD PEOPLE? BIG DEAL. JOIN THE CLUB: http://dennispalumbo.com/articles-dennis-palumbo/you-see-dead-people/

Taking The Mystery Out Of Writing Mysteries: http://dennispalumbo.com/take-the-mystery-out-of-writing/

Is Your Psycho Killer Just . . . Psycho?: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-palumbo/writing-tips-for-mystery-books_b_1450589.html

From Spec Script to the Big Screen—It Can Happen To You!: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-palumbo/from-spec-script-to-the-b_b_4881332.html

Who (And What) Defines Normal?: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-palumbo/definition-of-normal_b_1149362.html

Hollywood On The Couch: Going the Distance: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-palumbo/hollywood-on-the-couch-go_b_779917.html

Through A Glass Darkly: Crime Fiction as a Window on American Culture: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dennis-palumbo/through-a-glass-darkly-cr_b_494065.html

BOOKS:

NightTerrorsfrontforaupromo copy

http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/night-terrors/

http://www.amazon.com/Night-Terrors-Daniel-Rinaldi-Mystery/dp/1464201315

PhantomLimbcover copy

http://www.poisonedpenpress.com/phantom-limb/

http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Limb-Daniel-Rinaldi-Mystery/dp/1464202567

 
 
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