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Latest Wessely theory: PTSD due to frequency of flashback sequences in movies

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by Dolphin, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Dolphin

    Dolphin Senior Member

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    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/new...ar-in-film-plots/story-e6frg6so-1226072244783

    I'd like to see a bit more evidence to be convinced of this. Seems if you're a psychiatrist you may be able to throw out all sorts of speculative theories and get coverage for them.
  2. Nielk

    Nielk

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    This guy is really comical!
    You can use this argument with anything!
    Why are there not more people with multiple personalities, since a few movies have shown this phenomena.
    I'm surprised that after the movie " A beautiful min" there weren't lines of people trying to force themselves into psychiatrist offices claiming that they "see" things that are not really there.
    I think that Wessley has too much time on his hand because in the last decade, studies have shown how so many "psychiatric" illnesses really have a biological basis and not psychiatric at all.
    Are we just what we see others do? in the movies yet?
    How many insurance companies are supporting this guy to come up with garbage like that?
  3. WillowJ

    WillowJ Senior Member

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    or maybe movies of real phenomena, such as flashbacks 1) raise awareness of those phenomena among physicians, prompting an increase in diagnosis and 2) reduce the stigma of such phenomena among patients, making them less reluctant to raise such issues with their physicians

    but I doubt Wessely has entertained any alternate theories

    Nielk, yes, why aren't we all convinced that our "real" life is in our dream world after "Inception" (frankly, I think I would prefer constructing a dream world to the one I have... who's with me? :D )
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

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    Hmmmm, psychiatrists are diagnosing psychiatric disorders because they get their diagnostic criteria out of movies. They see these patients in movies, movies reflect real life, ergo their real patients must have these disorders.

    My explanation makes as much sense as his. That is to say, none.

    Bye
    Alex
  5. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    One has to feel a great deal of sympathy for those subject to his whacky theories.
  6. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    Doesn't seem like a particularly novel narrative device to me. Surely books used it too? I guess it's only a little news article though.
  7. In Vitro Infidelium

    In Vitro Infidelium Guest

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    Wessely is certainly a very willing media whore who appears oblivious to the obvious antagonism that half explained theorising engenders, I can only suppose his institutional press office works on the basis that any attention is good for attracting more research funding.

    There is nothing new in the idea that culturally novel imagery from books, films and TV comes to inform the language of therapy. In this case, as a far as I can see, Wessely isnt claiming that storylines involving the device of flash back or the idea that flash back is a hard wired response are causing people to have real or ersatz psychiatric episodes, but that military personnel who have experienced devastating events and who may subsequently be diagnosed with PTSD, are employing (albeit unconsciously) flashback as a descriptive experience of their continuing trauma. The fact that a PTSD sufferer experiences a flash back is of course significant, but what Wessely is saying is that flash backs are a recent phenomenon, which doesnt mean that the experience isnt real for the PTSD sufferer but that it tells us something important about how the mind works and therefore what may be the most effective therapeutic approach.

    IVI
  8. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Senior Member

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    Here is the youtube version:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJUn7Koe01g

    The top 3 keywords associated with Simon Wessely are murder, death and flashback. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2423459/filmokey
    No wait, wrong Wessely. (Googling error ;) )

    Seriously though, Simon and colleagues previously published this:
    "Flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder: the genesis of a 20th-century diagnosis"
    http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/reprint/182/2/158.pdf

    "War Syndromes: The Impact of Culture on Medically Unexplained Symptoms"
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1088250/

    Or this essay written by Simon:
    "The life and death of Private Harry Farr"
    http://jrsm.rsmjournals.com/cgi/content/full/99/9/440

    I haven't read them though as I'm trying to recover from my cold and any laughing would irritate my throat.
  9. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    Well that's interesting Snow Leopard - I must have missed something very important in the Iliad and Samuel Pepys - wot no PTSD spotted. He seems to be stating the obvious - the common sense understanding that particular horrors experienced may overly bring back recall. It's not (rocket) science.
  10. Katyak

    Katyak

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    Yes, Iliad is suitably gory, Enid. I love how the list of ancestry of a person is sometimes given just before they're gored to death (could that be construed as a flashback device???)

    And so modern soldiers have just been watching too many films for their own good, eh.

    You couldn't make this stuff up. Well, SW does of course. Liberally. I sometimes wonder if he actually worked for the satire site Newbiscuit (which writes ridiculous stories/parodies) and somehow accidentally slipped into being a psychiatrist and govt advisor.

    http://www.newsbiscuit.com/
  11. markmc20001

    markmc20001 Guest

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    So there we have it, the "scientific" study of the week.

    Now who believes CFS/ME, (XMRV) research has been purely a scientific debate?
  12. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    "flash backs" from movies - two and two together making 5 - Mr W. Try medicine and science - and leave theories about culture to those who's study it is. And they might discover the culture "all in the mind" was the fallacy it is.
  13. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Senior Member

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    I don't understand what you mean.
  14. kday

    kday Senior Member

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    Wow, psychiatry is really full of pseudocience, isn't it?

    I do think that culture influences mental disorders. Just look at Wessely and his gang. :D
  15. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    Yes kday - psychiatry is a pseudoscience. They are the "gaps" (and trying to infiltrate real illness - it's all in the mind).
  16. Kina

    Kina Moderation Team Lead

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    So the other day I was walking in our old neighbourhood. A particularly unwelcome and nasty memory popped into my mind when I walked by a certain house. I could choose to call this memory a "flashback" because I heard the term in a movie but that doesn't change the experience of having an unwelcome nasty memory pop into my mind -- not one iota.

    Are Gulf War Vets the next population Wessley is going to alienate?

    I wouldn't call his statements "pseudoscience", perhaps just call them what they are "non-science". :victory:
  17. Enid

    Enid Senior Member

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    Also non science - a little compassion for those who's difficult experiences take longer to "bury" (not recall) good too. What struck me most about these idiots was their complete dismissal of anything I was able to say and willing blindness to my obvious physical difficulties. Little wonder they and their speculations have brought them into disrepute in the UK.
  18. meadowlark

    meadowlark Senior Member

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    Hate to burst the professor's bubble, but any silent film scholar (and I am one--I wrote an entire book about them) can tell you that flashbacks were being used in silent film by 1910 or so. That was the nickelodeon "flicker" era when movies were about twenty minutes long. Flashbacks were used even more frequently in silent features, which began in 1913. The film audience was vast--far bigger than the audience for theatre and vaudeville--and ticketbuyers were mostly working class (as were most enlisted men). In fact, many soldiers in WWI took photos of their favorite film stars with them, rather than of their sweethearts. And, like soldiers in WWII, they wrote letters to movie stars.

    In other words, soldiers in WWI were well-acquainted with the movies, and flashbacks, though they may not have known the technical term for them. So there goes his thesis out the window.

    Edited to add: As my post shows, I'm a bit tetchy about people assuming that movies did not exist, or have a huge audience, before sound. You'd think that before S.W. makes statements about the influence of film, he'd crack open a book about film history.

    And KJM is right. The human mind flashes back quite naturally. I believe it's called "remembering."
  19. markmc20001

    markmc20001 Guest

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    Hi Snow Lepard.

    A bit of frustrated sarcastic humor on my part, and lack of being articulate. I'll try and articulate my thoughts if I can.

    The original post from Dolphin was: (I highlighted the sentence that gets my attention)

    So Mr Simon Wessley, counter part to William Reeves, has determined that PTSD is caused by hollywood movies, and not being from war or some other stressful event.

    I consider the US government and UK government to be both sharing ideas, research, and strategies for denying certain groups disability benefits and more. Some of those groups are VETS, CFS/ME patients, Lymes, Autism, etc....

    So when a UK government scientist releasing one of these bogus studies attacks Vets, CFS patients, Autism patients, or whoever. I kind of lump them into the same category. A category of research created with a specific intent to mislead.

    To deprive populations of benefits at the bare minimum, and create a database of psychobabble or bogus research that insurance companies, social security, HGRV researchers, or whoever can point to to show that it's all caused by something else. Because they can point to a bogus study or some NY Times article that says so.

    Kind of like science did to the WPI paper recently. Put a little political pressure on the Science and give them an excuse by pointing to all the bogus research created. Done deal. Everybody's butt is covered.

    My overall impression is that this kind of research is abundant and often gets much more media attention than the more cogent meaningful research that it is designed to drowned out.

    Markmc2000
  20. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I think that there is some ambiguity between people's actual experiences of flashbacks, and the language they use to describe them. The use of the term 'flashback' could well alter they way people think of haunting and vivid memories, and have some impact upon the way they experience them... I'm not really sure if Wessely is saying any more than this (and he's normally so careful to explain his theories clearly!)

    It's easy for us to end up straw-manning his work, just because he's screwed us over so badly, but it's probably best not to get too carried away with criticising what is just a bit of media whoring.

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