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Depression can be a dangerous thing

In follow up to my previous article, “Depression is everybody’s problem”, this article will point out the danger of depression when gone unchecked.

The 2015 crash of the Germanwings  Airbus A320 flight 4U9525 on March 24, 2015 which killed all one hundred fifty persons on board is a stark reminder of the need for closer scrutiny of those who are put in charge of the lives of others.

In the crash of the Germanwings  Airbus A320 flight 4U9525, the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had apparently been struggling with mental  illness and depression for some time. He even received a letter declaring him unfit for work (at some point)which somehow officials are only finding out about now as a result of Lubitz hiding the letter.

Like many depressed and psychologically distressed people, Lubitz apparently was able to hide his illness all too well; many who knew him, found him, normal, capable and even fun.  

Even when he was originally hired by Lufthansa in 2008, the company said Lubitz was psychologically sound and completely fit to fly.

As of today however, after the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bild (a German  Newspaper) citing unnamed sources claiming that Lubitz had suffered severe mental illness, Lufthansa has now admitted they learned in 2009 that Lubitz had suffered  a “previous episode of severe depression”.

Although Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, knew of Lubitz’s battle with depression, they allowed him to continue training and ultimately put him in the cockpit.

Lufthansa contends however, that because “Lubitz had a valid medical certificate, had passed all his examinations and “held all the licenses required”; there was no reason not to let him fly.

This is a staunch reminder of the need by every one of us to take a proverbial pinch of our mental capacity to see if we’re really ok. We all need to maintain good mental and emotional health but unfortunately not everyone is willing to check their mental and spiritual compass.

If you doubt your mental stability for even a minute, for goodness sakes talk to somebody professionally. Don’t be so proud that you endanger yourself or those around you.

On another level of mental health, too often like the recent German Air crash, someone with less than competent mental capacity gains control of people and either limits or ends their lives.

The potential for anyone with power over people to take such control to the extreme is just too fragile to allow incompetency to be put in control.

Having worn so many professional hats over the years as a pastor, theologian, psychologist and insurance adjuster, this writer has seen far too much incompetence among those in charge of others.

The old saying of “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” is so true.

This writer has seen good men and women totally collapse under the obligation of power and control.

I’ve seen pastor’s attempt suicide after major catastrophes like hurricanes which wiped out their churches and homes, theologians who couldn’t handle a flaw in a theological truth they once held firm, attorneys who lost major cases, athletes who lost the big game, parents who lost children and on and on.

In short, everyone is vulnerable to mental illness and associated depression at some point in their life.

When life becomes more than we can handle on our own, that’s when we need to talk to someone professionally.

But what about the professionals who think they’re above talking to someone?

Does this not support the need for a required mental assessment of every major professional?

Certainly all pilots, bus drivers, train operators, ship captains and personnel, doctors and hospital staff, law enforcement, attorneys, prosecutors and certainly all politicians should be required to have an extensive mental health screening; not just a  criminal background check but an intensive mental health checkup.

Most of all both the Democratic and Republican Parties should include in their Presidential Candidate vetting process a mental health checkup made public to all.

Good mental health is very important and should never be taken for granted because the mind can indeed be a dangerous thing.

Please, if you are having strange or unusual thoughts, feeling depressed or lonely, call someone today at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org.

Also call your political party requesting that a mental health checkup be required in all political candidate vetting processes; especially of those running for the office of president.

© 2019 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III

Depression is everybody’s problem

The suicide death of so many celebrities and returning military from combat zones brings to the forefront the all too common problem of depression with the often end result of suicide.

We all have seen the many public service announcements by the late Mike Wallace and others who have openly admitted their battle with depression in an effort to shed light on an all too common problem.

With one out of every seven people in the modern world dealing with this very serious mental health issue at some point in their life, there is simply never enough emphasis placed on this condition.

There is so much which can be said about depression and yet the reality is very few people actually attempt to do anything about either their own condition or the condition of a friend or loved one.

Depression is generally defined as, a condition marked by feelings of worthlessness, dejection and worry which is usually accompanied by a state of unhappiness and pessimistic outlook on life.

The depressed person is susceptible to minor states of frustration, feelings of guilt and even occasional paranoia with a tendency to feel they are either a failure or failure prone.

Basically the depressed person develops low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy.

In more severe cases, depression may result in suicide.

Depression can be brought on by many things including Parkinson disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease.

It has now been stated by the wife of the late Robin Williams that he was actually suffering from the early stages of Parkinson which might have contributed to his depression.

As an epileptic, this writer is well aware of the potential of the medication I take as well as the disorder itself which can lead to depression. In fact, my neurologists always ask me on each checkup visit if I am experiencing any depression.

As a child I witnessed the constant depression of my late mother and wanted to know more about the subject which ultimately led to my study of psychology.

Unfortunately, my mother never really recognized she had clinical depression; although it was quite evident to those around her.

For my mother as well as both of my Grandmothers, they simply addressed their problem as being “down in the dumps” or “having the blues”.

Down in the dumps and having the blues doesn’t last a life time but genuine clinical depression can; especially left untreated.

It should be noted here, that there is a clear clinical distinction between a person suffering from what is known as a “neurotic depressive reaction” which might result from a difficult situation or traumatic life event such as a divorce or family member’s death and “psychotic depression”.

“Psychotic depression” includes a variety of widely known depressions known as “manic-depression” and “Bi-polar condition” (which today is often included as one depression type).

Persons diagnosed with a psychotic depression usually have a long history of mood swings and depressed episodes accompanied by extreme paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.

Although both forms of depression are treated similarly, most forms of Psychotic depression require long term use of medication, personal and group psychotherapy and often even in-patient hospitalization.

In short, depression should never be ignored.

In contemporary society, there is simply no need for anyone to suffer with the pain of depression or to inflict in those around us the pain of watching our reactions to difficult and depressed feelings.

With proper psychotherapy and medication most types of depression can be “handled” and most people live a full, healthy and satisfied life.

Available medication, good doctors, neurologist and psychotherapist are usually the easy part.

The difficult part is helping people understand they have a problem and then leading them to seek out the appropriate solution.

Bear in mind, you cannot push a depressed person; it can only make their situation worst.

Most men cover up their feelings and as such seldom admit they’re having any kind of an emotional problem.

Even if their Family doctor prescribes some medication and warns the patient one of the side effects can be depression, many men will simply respond by saying, “it’s nothing I can’t deal with”.

Women usually will seek professional help for depression the quickest due to recognizing and understanding their own feelings.

Unlike men, women openly and easily display their feelings and emotions; any change in that normality seen by themselves or their friends and family often sends up a red flag that something is wrong.

As a result a visit to the doctor, therapist or at the least the best friend or hair stylist is sought to talk things out.

Herein is where depression becomes everybody’s problem.

Women realize for the most part, that “airing out” their feelings or differences helps and often even bring about a solution or complete healing of the depressed state of mine.

Men on the other hand hold it in and are very good at putting up a façade that there is “nothing wrong”.

Teens too, are often good at hiding their true feelings for fear of being “singled out” and made fun of for admitting they have a problem, talking about it to friends and family and seeking the professional help they need.

In over thirty years of counseling, the main reason most people came to me ultimately led back to depression.

Their depression escalated other problems such as marriage and family relationships, employment problems, long time friendships and various forms of sexual dysfunction.

Often depression can affect health problems such as appetite, weight gain or loss, hair loss, visual problems and much more.

Many times it is necessary for a psychologist to refer a patient back to their family doctor in order to eliminate a possible physical problem.

Again, depression is such a huge problem that it is everybody’s problem; it is a personal problem, and your friends’ and family’s problem.

It is your church and pastor’s problem and it is your family doctor and psychotherapist’s problem.

It takes all of us working together to recognize our own depression and/or that of our friends, family and co-workers.

Depression is indeed everybody’s business and my next Christian Counseling article will look at its many warning signs.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Becoming EpiAware

This is a meme I came across several years back from one of my Epilepsy support groups and felt it time to include with a short article on anti seizure medication side effects.

The meme addresses a subject we don’t often think about; our anti seizure medication and the side effects they bring to our lives. It sometimes causes us to do or say spur of the moment things we don’t intentionally mean to say or do. It’s very similar to or may even be part of an aura or seizure; and yes most anti seizure meds can cause auras and or seizures.

The side effects are not wanted or planned; they “just happen” without warning. We need to familiarize both our self as well as family members and friends with these side effects.

Remember, most epilepsy medications are not only prescribed for epilepsy and seizures but also for behavioral health use in treating such illnesses as Bipolar Disorder and many Schizophrenia disorders.

Unfortunately for the epileptic, the medication can often have the exact opposite effect for which it was intended in treating such behavioral disorders.

As a result it is extremely important to know your medication’s side effects; not just in general but in you specifically; find out everything you can. Becoming familiar with these side effects can help prevent wrongly diagnosed mental health issues as well as social and relationship issues.

It is important that every epileptic as well as friends and family know and understand anti seizure medication side effects; not just in general but specifically for the epileptic in their life.

We should all become “#EpiAware”.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Not even considered

Symptoms often overlooked as epilepsy related

Being involved with literally hundreds of epileptics in epilepsy support groups, I’m amazed at those recently diagnosed as epileptics who had started out with simple illness symptoms that most of us wouldn’t consider as having anything to do with epilepsy; at least on their own.

The problem arises when over time and normal medical treatment by your General Practitioner these symptoms remain or even seem to increase.

Unfortunately, the GP prescribes a few tests which come back normal or maybe he or she gives you a Rx for a med that eliminates the problem but over time actually triggers other symptoms or even a seizure.

The attached drawing is an admittedly somewhat controversial drawing of many of the associated illnesses or symptoms of epilepsy. However, if you experience any of these, especially together, you should inform your doctor or neurologist immediately.

Any one of these illnesses can be signs of an impending seizure or related to an aura.

We all have these symptoms from time to time and as such the reason many consider this as controversial, but my experience has shown most epileptics have had these associated illnesses at one time.

I hope this drawing will help you better understand yourself as an epileptic or the epileptic in your life.

May God keep us all seizure free.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Post seizure counseling

The need for post seizure counseling

by
Dr. Lee Outlaw
DSCI0074
Use of a counselor/psychologist can be beneficial in post epileptic seizure recovery

After thirty years of counseling people in practically every area of life including epilepsy, I am obviously an advocate for counseling. In fact, I have written several papers and articles on the subject of the need for professional counseling.

Counseling, that desire to talk to somebody when you just can’t figure things out is always helpful even if the person you’re talking to is only a friend or relative; we all do it.

Don’t think I’m referring only to other people; in my thirty years as a pastor and Christian psychologist, I had standing weekly appointments with both a close pastor friend and a Psychiatrist colleague to simply talk and discuss “things”, to keep from losing my proverbial mind. If you think personal problems are tough, try dealing with hundreds of people’s problems; it can often be more than one person can handle. I might add that this was long before I had been officially diagnosed as an epileptic.

The point is, we all need help from time to time and we need to talk about our problems and issues with life.

Unfortunately for those of us who are epileptics, the ones we want to talk too either don’t want to listen or have pre-conceived ideas about epilepsy. They often perceive epilepsy as a mental illness, drug abuse, anger issues or even demonic possession. In addition, many think we make it all up and are lazy resulting from having to give up driving, unable to work and often afraid to go out in public for fear of having a seizure.

Another problem for many of our friends and family members is they have never witnessed us having a seizure, or so they think. This alone results in a variety of arm chair counselors making unsubstantiated accusations and incorrect recommendations or suggestions.

After my two recent grand mal seizures just 3 hours apart (as stated in my last article), recovery has been tough, really tough”; it has been the most difficult post seizure recovery and taken the longest time for recovery I have ever experienced. Only now nearly three months since the seizures am I beginning to feel almost “normal”.

I believe sincerely the only reason I am even close to full recovery is due to seeking out personal counseling.

A colleague suggested that I might want to consider a series of sessions with a mutual fellow therapist, which I did. I knew this man and like me he is both semi-retired and a Christian Psychologist and he has some experience in counseling epileptics. I agreed and it has been the best thing I have ever done.

The first thing he asked me was, “What are your two greatest fears with regard to being an epileptic?”

Those of us who practice psychology are well aware that the one thing common to everyone is fear; it either drives us to success or failure. Fear can also induce or reduce stress in our lives.

I believe sincerely this is why the Bible tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2Timothy 1:7

My first fear like most epileptics is that of the unknown; that is the not knowing if or when I will have another seizure and what kind I might experience. Also, the older I get is the realization that the next seizure could take my life.

The second fear I shared with my counselor is very personal and something I had held onto for 19 years. Once I shared it with him and God I felt stress almost immediately leave my mind and body. It was and is a great feeling.

The past we hold on to produces emotional poison and develops stress after stress after stress in our lives. This is extremely dangerous for anyone but for the epileptic it can be absolutely fatal. If a past problem is long past and buried deep in your mind it will probably require professional help to eliminate.

The point of this article is simple, Professional Psychological and/or Clinical Pastoral Counseling can be of great benefit to epileptics in relieving stress.

This is part of my reason for starting LIVE Online Counseling beginning April 2nd.

Although epilepsy is not a mental health disorder, due to the extreme impact on an epileptic and their family, there can be associated mental health issues which develop along the way such as mood swings, depression, anger and personality disorders.

All of this can contribute to stress for the epileptic and their friends and family. Counseling can possibly help.

If you haven’t done so, please give Epilepsy counseling a chance.

May God bless us all as we seek to find a cure for Epilepsy.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Unrecognized Seizure Signals


 
Epilepsy is certainly a disorder of mystery and unpredictability as any epileptic will tell you.

 After ten years being grand mal seizure free, just one day after this past Christmas I found myself waking up in an ambulance from a grand mal seizure in route to the hospital where I encountered a second seizure only three hours later. This has been the worst seizure ever and roughest recovery. After coming home from the hospital, I slept for nearly 3 days and remember almost nothing.

 Although unknown to me until I was fifty-seven years old, I was born an epileptic and had experienced seizures all my life; in fact my grandfather was an epileptic as was his grandfather and his grandfather before him and who knows how far back.

 For those of us older such as me, we grew up in a time when epilepsy had many labels and taboos even linked to mental disorders and demonic possession. As a result, your family or even family doctor might not pursue any detailed medical investigation. In my case, my parents and I were told it was just part of growing up; or so I had always been told. But shortly before my father died, he confided in me that our family doctor had suspected I might have epilepsy but to quote my father, he told “old Doc Holden, there was no way his son was crazy”.

 My father also, didn’t understand that what he witnessed so often in his father as what was called “fits” was actually epileptic seizures as well.

 Although I don’t blame my parents for my epilepsy, it’s very sad to think what just a little more knowledge and information might have done to help me today.

 Since having my first full blown grand mal seizure in 2001, I have made every effort to learn everything I could about epilepsy and how to recognize and avoid the proverbial “seizure triggers” and how to prevent them.

 As most epileptics know the two basics to control and prevention are, 1) take all your meds as prescribed and 2) get at least eight hours sleep every night. In most cases, if an epileptic follows this regiment of treatment the chances of having a seizure are greatly reduced.

 Unfortunately Epilepsy is a neurological disorder and not a disease resulting in the reality that at present there is no cure. The best that can be done at present is the prescribing of a variety of medication, electronic stimulators and surgery. As such the bad news every epileptic receives once diagnosed is “epilepsy is for life”; so your neurologist will instruct you in how to recognize the possibility or the signs of an upcoming seizure.

 Most epileptics are well aware of the most obvious sign of a possible seizure which is the dreaded “aura”. For most of us, we hate the aura worse than the seizure. The seizure strikes and is usually over in just a few minutes but the aura is totally debilitating and can last from a few minutes to several days. Like it or not, the aura is usually a sign of a potential seizure.

 The aura is difficult to describe; especially to non-epileptics.  The average aura time for most epileptics I know is about 15 minutes. My average aura last 24 hours but I have experienced a pre-seizure aura which lasted 2 days and a post-seizure aura which lasted almost a week.

Auras are terrible. They can be mild to migraine headaches, the proverbial “seeing stars”, visualizing “saintly” like glows or halos around people, visualization can take on a yellowish hue as well as the experience of strange sounds and odors.

But the worst aura experience of all for most epileptics is disassociation; the feeling of uncertainty of where you are or what many epileptics describe as the sensation of feeling like you’re in more than one place at a given moment. Some have described it as feeling like you’re here but also somewhere else. Some have likened the experience to a type of “déjàvu”.

The aura often causes an epileptic to lose momentary thought, focus and concentration.

Some research now suggests that due to their debilitating effect on the epileptic, these auras are actually partial seizures. Regardless of what these auras are, they can certainly slow a person down, delay or even force a change or cancellation to plans.

It is important to note that although some epileptics never experience an aura, those that do have different aura experiences. One such experience is “mood change”.

Mood change (which is usually a side effect of anti-seizure medication and not epilepsy) itself is often a signal or precursor to a major seizure. Of great importance is the “Unrecognizable Mood Change”. It might be subtle or it might be drastic. It might not be recognizable to the epileptic patient at all but very noticeable to everyone else. The mood change can begin weeks before the seizure.

As a lifelong epileptic and Christian psychologist I was well aware that mood changes could be a part of epilepsy but as a lifelong epileptic I had never seen myself as having mood changes.  Recently however, my reaction to what I interpreted as a bad smelling slice of ham was actually seen by family members as both irrational and mean spirited. The bottom line is others saw the mood change but I didn’t. In addition my family informed me that over the past forty years I had many similar experiences. 

The bottom line is if you haven’t experienced an epileptic aura, you simply can’t understand but you can try and be observant of the epileptic in your life.

If the epileptic in your life begins demonstrating unusual or a sudden change in behavior, be certain to make them aware of those changes in a very caring and constructive way. You might ask if they have taken all their meds on time or ask how they’re feeling.

If you’re an epileptic, listen to those around you, they might see things happening in you that you don’t see in yourself and if you listen carefully you might prevent a seizure or even save your life.

Let others help you recognize the unrecognizable signals in you.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

Just when you thought it was safe

Epilepsy in Plain Sight

Just when you thought it was safe

A personal epilepsy experience by Dr. Lee Outlaw

I am taking a short break from my six part Epilepsy series, “Six often overlooked associated conditions of Epilepsy” to write a special piece on my most recent experience as an epileptic.

I want every epileptic to know that I am not just a Christian Counselor and Psychologist; I am a real life epileptic. Although, my epilepsy is controlled fairly well, like you, I have my epileptic moments and just when I thought it was safe…, EPILEPSY reared its ugly head.

I was driving home (yes I drive) from a meeting feeling perfectly fine when suddenly out of nowhere I was hit with the ugly fist of a full blown Epileptic aura; not a seizure mind you but the next worst thing. I had taken my morning dosage of Depakote and CBD and had gotten my full 8 hours sleep. Apart from the slight stress of the drive itself, there was absolutely nothing to trigger an aura.

It was a very frustrating experience. Although I had had minor auras, this was the first major aura in ten years and that aura led to a major Grand Mal seizure; needless to say I was scared.

The aura was so intense, I had to pull over onto the frontage road from the freeway and eventually I pulled into a convenience store and purchased a diet cola. I finally felt I had walked the aura off well enough that I had control and drove on home; unfortunately the aura wasn’t over.

As I reached my home, I became extremely tired (every epileptic knows that severe tired feeling) and I practically fell out of my van. I made it inside the house and collapsed into my recliner where I remained fading in and out of consciousness for the next eight hours. I had no doubt as to what was happening so I finally took an extra dose of Depakote and ultimately made it to bed.

I woke up Saturday morning and felt some better but I knew things still weren’t right. As usual I took my Depakote and later CBD. I had a light breakfast but the aura remained; not as bad as the previous day but it was bad.

For those of you who might have never experienced an intense epileptic aura, here is what I (and many others) experienced:

It was as though I became semi-conscious, walking around in a hazy light yellow (some experience other colors but mine has always been yellow) fog (unable to focus or concentrate) intermittent déjàvu, weird smells (I smelled cigarette and cigar smoke even though no one in my home smokes and nobody is allowed to smoke in the house) and a thousand crickets in my head (some claim to hear strange sounds or music)(tinnitus/ringing in my ears). I also experienced a light head ache.

As a psychologist I need to point out here that someone experiencing a stroke can have a similar pre-stroke experience. Unless you have had an intense aura and discussed it with your neurologist (even if you are an epileptic) and have such an experience as I have described, you should call 911 immediately; it could be the difference between life and death.

Every epileptic’s aura experience is different but that was my most recent.

I continued to take my Depakote and CBD throughout the day and even an extra half dose of Depakote in the afternoon as my neurologist had previously directed when I experience an intense aura.

The aura seemed to decrease throughout the afternoon until I went to bed that evening.

Around 4:30 am Sunday morning, it happened, I had a “night (Nocturnal) seizure”; I woke up consciously shaking having bitten both my right side tongue and upper and lower lips. My tongue was bitten severely and outer lower lip bite actually bled.

The good news as most of us as epileptics know is that after the night seizure I am feeling much better and am nearly back to normal.

Keep in mind, increasing numbers of neurologist and researchers believe the epileptic aura is actually a simple partial seizure. Regardless, the aura for most of us as epileptics is a horrible experience.

I thank God for a good neurology team, support team which includes my family, great anti-seizure meds and prayer.

I am also thankful for the U.S. Congress having legalized CBD oil in all 50 states and the Texas State Legislature having legalized Low THC/CBD Cannabinol for use by Epileptics. I believe sincerely, had I not been taking CBD, my aura and seizure would have been much greater.

For all epileptics and non-epileptics alike, please remember that epilepsy is not a disease (although since 2014, many researchers have disagreed); it is a neurological disorder. At present there is no known cure and epilepsy does not get better (although most of us agree it is becoming easier to control); it is always there. But with proper care and support it is possible to live a relatively normal life.

May God bless every epileptic and their families and may God give wisdom to epileptic researchers as they seek a cure.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

 

What’s wrong with people? Part 3

Part 3 of A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

PART 3


People tend to care more about themselves than the greater good of others


As we continue to investigate this “social-psychological” problem of “What’s wrong with people?”, it has become evident to many in both mental health and pastoral care that people appear more self-centered than at any time in history.

It seems that in western civilization especially, we have become a “me first” society; this is not to disparage President Trump’s America First agenda which has been sorely needed. On the world stage, the United States has been and continues to be the most caring and giving nation in the world. On an individual basis, however, people, in general, seem increasingly less concerned for their fellow man and more concerned about themselves.

This “Me, me, me” attitude has developed an increase by smaller side culture groups (too numerous to mention) promoting their cause(s) in such great emphasis that their particular cause and need seems far greater than what it is in actuality.

The result is very “in your face” and sometimes profane and vulgar bumper or rear window stickers used to intimidate; the intention is usually to emphasize, “I’m more important than you” or “My cause is greater than yours”.

We used to be a “Good neighbor” society. New neighbors were welcomed to our neighborhoods, villages or towns. If someone moved in next door to us, we introduced ourselves; made a cake or casserole and let them know we were there “for them” should we be needed. This usually resulted in men exchanging tools needed for repairs and children playing together.

In the current trend of “Me, me, me” and self-gratification, there is little if any concern or even acknowledgment for our neighbors or anyone else. This attitude results in people shoving or stealing someone’s place in line, needlessly cutting in and out of traffic, not obeying traffic signs and failing in general to acknowledge our own bad behavior.

In essence, we have become a Narcissistic personality disorder society.

I had a Psychiatrist friend who used to say; almost every patient he saw had Narcissistic personality tendencies. My experience as a psychologist was very similar and we would often have long discussions about this very serious subject and bear in mind, this is a serious subject.

Since most murderers, rapist, and thieves are usually diagnosed as a narcissist, just imagine the problem of an entire society with this disorder; it certainly helps to answer the question of “What is wrong with people?”

The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) , which is often utilized by most of us as mental health professionals to diagnose psychological disorders, suggests that narcissistic personality disorder causes significant impairments in personality in terms of functioning and is accompanied by a number of pathological personality traits or symptoms (which will be mentioned later).

Although it is estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health that only one percent of those diagnosed with personality disorders actually have Narcissistic personality disorder, it is important to point out that less than ten percent of the population actually receive any actual mental health treatment (even though nearly fifty percent have enquired at some point about professional counseling). This brings to question such a low estimate of those with an actual Narcissistic personality disorder.

Most of us in professional mental health agree the problem is far greater than one percent.

Regardless of the percentage, the problem is real and increasingly affects our society; so what do we do?

First of all, never hesitate to obtain professional psychological help.

Here are some of the symptoms of a Narcissistic personality disorder:

  • An exaggerated sense of their abilities and accomplishments
  • Constantly seeking attention, affirmation, and praise
  • A belief that he or she is unique or “special” and should only associate with “like-kind”
  • Persistent fantasies about attaining success and power
  • Exploiting other people for personal gain
  • A sense of entitlement and expectation of special treatment
  • A preoccupation with power or success
  • Feeling envious of others, or believing that others are envious of him or her
  • A lack of empathy for others

If you or someone you know demonstrates any of these traits, Narcissistic personality disorder might be the problem and it is not to be taken lightly.  Seeking professional help is essential and can make a difference.

There is good news,  many counseling and psychotherapeutic techniques have been proven effective in the treatment of Narcissistic personality disorder.

These treatments include:

  1. Psychodynamic psychotherapy
  2. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  3. Psychotropic medications

There are also the words of Jesus from the New Testament, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,” Matthew 7:12.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Six overlooked conditions of Epilepsy

MLREPIL (Large)Six overlooked conditions of Epilepsy

 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

As I begin the new section of Drtruthman Christian Counseling and Opinion dedicated to Epilepsy titled, “Epilepsy in plain sight”, I will attempt to address areas of this neurological condition which are usually obvious but often neglected in general epilepsy diagnosis and discussion.

These associate conditions include:

  1. Heightened emotions
  2. Decreased touch sensitivity (aka ”Depakote dropsy”)
  3. Increased or decreased libido
  4. Verbal rambling
  5. Momentary memory loss
  6. OCS ( a type of OCD)

Crying man

Heightened emotions

Very few epileptics ever talk about this subject with either their support team or their neurologist; especially men. It usually happens while watching a movie or television program and you find yourself suddenly caught up in the movie and become either extremely angry or crying like a baby with usually more of the latter.

This Pseudobulbar affect (or more commonly known as PBA), or emotional incontinence, is a type of emotional disturbance characterized by uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays. PBA occurs as secondary to an existing neurologic disorder or brain injury. Although more commonly associated with Parkinson, MS and stroke victims, PBA has become increasingly reported among epileptics; possibly because of new epilepsy medications or simply because patients haven’t always reported the condition.

These uncontrollable episodes of crying and/or laughing, or other emotional displays seem to happen at the most inopportune times.  It happens at family events, church, patriotic events and even for no reason at all. I have found myself sometime blubbering like a baby just hearing someone pray or me giving the family Thanksgiving blessing or my favorite sports team winning.

There doesn’t have to be any rhyme or reason for these heightened emotions occurring.

I do know this; I am a genetic, grand general epileptic. I was born with epilepsy and I can have any kind of seizure at any time but my problem with heightened emotions didn’t start until I was put on anti-seizure medication in 1999 and I have been on three different medications.

It depends on your anti-seizure medication as to the extent of the increase in your emotions being heightened but from the epileptics I have professionally counseled over the years it seems to happen to all of us as epileptics.

It doesn’t have to be just anger or sorrowful emotions either; it can also be manic emotion such as uncontrollable laughter, frivolity and whimsical behavior.

At this point, you have to be careful should you decide to report this to your neurologist, GP or Psychotherapist; the reason being that heightened manic emotions can also mask epilepsy in some psychotic disorders such as certain types of Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

With regard to schizophrenia there are two common sub-types which would seem to mimic The Pseudobulbar affect:  1) neophrenia; a deranged neurosis or psychosis which has often been associated with early onset schizophrenia where an individual finds everything funny and laughs sometimes uncontrollably and 2) hebephrenia; a syndrome characterized by shallow and inappropriate giggling (or laughing), and silly regressive behavior and mannerisms; this has now been renamed disorganized schizophrenia.

Another important fact to remember is that most ant-seizure medications are also used for controlling certain types of Bipolar and schizophrenic behavior.  As a result, there is some indication that the conditions these medications help to control in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia might actually have the reverse effect on epileptics causing medical and mental health professionals to overlook the epilepsy connection and jump right to the neurotic and psychotic diagnostic categories.

Even though it can be a somewhat frightening thought to have your epilepsy re-diagnosed as a psychological disorder, it is still always best to consult your neurologist with concerns about heightened emotions. It might be as simple as changing your medication dosage or even changing your anti-seizure medication completely.

But once again, with regard to the information provided, choose your words carefully.

Closely associated with an epileptic’s heightened emotions is the second condition of Decreased touch sensitivity (aka ”Depakote dropsy”) which will be discussed in the next article of “Epilepsy in plain sight”.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

What’s wrong with people? Part 2

Part 2 of A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

Part 2

People tend to take the easy way out

 

People do tend to take the easy way out; often making both their life and the lives of others more difficult.

In the continuing look at the ““social-psychological” problem of “What’s wrong with people?” it’s not only evident that people don’t think things through but that they also tend to take the easy way out. If there is an easy way to accomplish something most people will take the easy road to their intended accomplishment.

This is not to say that the easy way is never the best way; sometimes it is. Even the problem-solving solution by the thirteenth-century English Franciscan friar, William of Ockham stated that “when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the answer that makes the fewest assumptions”. In other words, what has become commonly known among scholars as “Occam’s razor “suggest that the best solution or answer to a problem is often the simplest or most obvious conclusion that sometimes the simplest and easiest way to a solution is the best.
Occam’s razor does not seek to offer complete and absolute proof, but to find the simplest probable answer to a question of why an event happened.

Although the good Friar was a man of God and quite learned for his day in the fields of science, math, philosophy, and theology, the overall theme of the church was that every choice man made should be attributed to God or the church. As a result, everything people did that was bad for them was due to their disobedience to God.

Over time, people began to blame God or the Devil for everything that was good or bad in their lives. God and/or the devil were the obvious “easy answer” to all of life’s situations, difficulties, and problems. In essence, the most obvious answer to “What’s wrong with people?” was simply they weren’t obedient to God.

That trend continued over the centuries which followed and continues today; only now God becomes less and less the “easy way out” and other people, places, and things become the easy road or solution to humanity’s problems or accomplishments. After all, man has moved beyond God (or so most think).

Generally speaking, the easy way out for many people is the “blame game”; the idea that “it wasn’t me”. It was somebody else, it was a professor, a parent, a college, a pastor, a love relationship, the car they were driving or the road on which they were driving. For others, it was the job or the lack thereof, the foods they eat, the stress in their lives, sibling rivalry, bad genes, not enough money or too much money, alcohol, drugs or sex.

Unfortunately, Psychology, the very profession I’ve been a part of for over forty years has made the blame game the top “easy way out” for most people.

After all, it was the father of Psychiatry, Sigmund Freud who concluded that all of our problems can be traced back to our parents and our childhood; we could now blame our parents for our flaws, our frailties, and our failures.

Even though Carl Yung attempted to emphasize that personality traits and behavior were learned through social interaction and environment, the tendency within the Mental Health Community has continued to allow the blame game a significant area of emphasis.

Although blame is a simple and easy road on which to escape responsibility, it isn’t the only “easy way out”.

One of the easiest ways out of any situation in life for many people is the age-old art of lying. I use the term “art” here as opposed to sin because even though everyone does it in one form or another, some people have indeed made lying an art form due to their pathological infatuation with its use.

For far too many people today, the failure to keep the ninth commandment is not even considered a sin since everybody does it. Even many theologians argue that technically there is no “Thou shalt not lie” found anywhere in the Ten Commandments or anywhere else in the Law of Moses. These Theologians would argue that the ninth commandment is about “Not bearing false witness against one’s neighbor”; in other words claiming or saying your neighbor said or did something they had not done; most would even argue that the commandment was primary about land and property disputes. Of course, lying is still implied even though not stated specifically.

So choosing the simplest way of doing something, blaming someone or something else for our mistakes or failure and lying are all ways of taking the easy way out. The most common way of taking the easy way out, however, is simply never committing to a task or quitting after the task has begun.

As we continue our look at “What’s wrong with people?” it’s obvious that people all too often tend to take the easy way out leading to mistakes and difficulties which affect themselves and everyone around them.

If more people would slow down their lives and stop to think things through, they’d be less apt to take the easy way out making life better for everyone.

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

What’s wrong with people? Part 1

Part 1 of A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do


Part 1
People don’t think things through

“What is wrong with people?” is what many of us think, say, or shout in the wake of a seemingly senseless, sudden action or comment we encounter by another person or persons.

It might be someone cutting us off while driving, using profanity in front of children, making rash or unthoughtful comments, making a senseless financial decision or wrongful action to a friendship or relationship.

On the grander scale, it might be a political decision you don’t favor, a disagreement with a theological or ecclesiastical (church) decision or a troubling socially and politically correct trend.
For many of us, these kinds of things not only upset us but make our blood boil with anger.

This often stated frustration made by many appears to be on the increase; in reality however, this “social-psychological” problem is as old and as common as man himself.
The main cause or ingredient to this problem is a lack of common sense or critical thinking; in essence, people simply don’t think things through. They neither think things through thoroughly and completely nor weigh the consequences of the subsequent action.

Some would say such critical thinking and evaluation is near impossible “on the run” or in the “heat of the moment”. Therein lies one of the most serious of this social-psychological problem; most of us need to slow down.

It is impossible to think a thing through if you’re living life at the speed of light.

The computer era has made the term of “multi-tasking” the common cliché. In reality multi-tasking is all too often the attempt to do too much at one time and like the old adage says, “A jack of all trades is the master of none”.

This multi-tasking develops an environment of increased personal pressure forcing many to toss critical thinking or  “common sense” out the window; the result is another common cliché of our day, “It is what it is”.

The reality of this nonchalant attitude of “It is what it is” is simply a “don’t care” attitude; seldom is what something appears to be reality.

When the majority of people develop this “It is what it is” attitude there is no base for establishing common sense or critical thinking and no reason for people to think things through thoroughly.
The failure to think things through thoroughly ends in negative results from not considering all the possibilities, ramifications and consequences of a possible action.

As stated in the introduction to this seven part series, you will not only find a discussion of what’s wrong with people but also answers.
People can only begin to use common sense and critical thinking if they have a standard on which to base their actions and decisions.

As a Christian Psychologist and counselor, I find no better standard than the Bible.

There are three verses which emphasize what people can do to think things through thoroughly:

Think:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”. (James 1:5 NIV)
Decide:
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Act without anger:
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Ephesians 4:26)

Part 2 of “What’s wrong with people?” will discuss “Why people take the easy way out?”

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

What is wrong with people? Introduction

A Seven Part Series on Why People Do What They Do

 

Recently my three sons and I were discussing in general the actions and attitude of people within our circle of friends, acquaintances and extended family. As we discussed some of the issues and situations in more specifics, we came up with more questions than answers but the overwhelming question was simply, “What is wrong with people?”

In general the question seems to be cross generational and cross cultural but overall the intricacy of the question can be broken down as follows:

What is wrong with people seems to be a result of :

1.       They don’t think things through thoroughly

2.       They seem to take the easy way out

3.       They tend to care more about themselves than the greater good of others

4.       They tend to care more about themselves than the law

5.       They tend to care more about themselves than God and their faith

6.       They care more about feelings than consequences

7.       They tend to believe the unbelievable but can’t believe in an all knowing and all powerful God.

In the area of psychology, we refer to this study of people and what sometimes appears to be a less than normal and lack of common sense approach to life as “Social Psychology”

Of course within secular psychology, the study of such is an attempt to scientifically understand and explain how thoughts, feelings, and behavior of people are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others within society.  Simply stated, social psychology is all about understanding how each person’s behavior is influenced by their social surroundings.

The problem within mainstream secular psychology however, is that there is no real defined moral base or ethical value from which to standardize such a study of an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behavior apart from fluctuating statistics in comparison analysis of the same given criteria among ones peers or an established psychological norm at any given moment.

As such, I will attempt to examine in a seven part series  utilizing both Christian and Secular Psychology, “What is wrong with people?” from a Social Psychological perspective and unlike many Psychological papers, I will attempt to answer the question.

Regardless of one’s philosophical, political, religious or psychological view, we have all been dissatisfied, disappointed or even frustrated by people either within or outside our social and family circle and we have asked the question or variation thereof, “What is wrong with people?”

Hopefully, over this seven part series on Drtruthman Counseling, you will find your answer to that age old question, “What is wrong with people?”

© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

 

 

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