Friday, April 1, 2011

MINDFULNESS AND YOUTH TRAUMA

Neuroscientists, clinicians and PhD researchers are increasingly turning their attention to an area Buddhists and philosophers have been studying for more than two millennia: mindfulness. The number of serious scientific case studies of how mindfulness can help trauma victims has grown exponentially in the past few years.

One reason is that mindfulness is increasingly being associated with the kinds of positive social and emotional experiences that trauma victims often no longer feel, what clinicians describe as emotional numbness.

Ruth Lanius (pictured above), an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario, has been studying emotional awareness and mindfulness in complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for several years, and has found direct correlations between mindfulness and brain activity.

Using MRI scans, Lanius found that the more mindful her subjects were, the more activation showed up in an area of the brain called the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex [“dmPFC” or "DMPFC"] (a brain region involved in reflective awareness).

There is good reason for all the interest in brain science and its affect on traumatized youth. For one, it's relatively cheap, and already the jury is in … the payoff of minor sums has been quite dramatic.

Secondly, a consensus is emerging among many therapists that far too many traumatized kids are being overmedicated. Last year alone, American children consumed $16.3 billion in anti-psychotic medication. Researchers like Dr Bessel van der Kolk and others say these medications are destroying children's capacity to engage in the world. "I bet half the kids on these medications will never be functional members of society," he said. "It's a national catastrophe."

Source: Scott Johnson  Oakland Tribune  All Rights Reserved
Posted: 03/30/2011 12:00:00 AM PDT    Updated: 03/30/2011 09:28:12 AM PDT

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1 comment:

  1. I may be confused, but shouldn't the dorsolateral and dorsomedial PFC boxes actually be pointing to the prefrontal lobe in the front of the image and not the occipital lobe in the back?

    ReplyDelete