Did You Know…

…that serial killers are almost never psychotic?

Psychosis is a loss of contact with reality and usually includes hallucinations and delusions. Once in awhile a serial killer does have a psychotic disorder, but that’s rare for a couple of reasons. First, psychotic behavior draws attention to itself, making it difficult for people to disguise what they’re doing. Second, to get away with multiple dangerous crimes, planning and forethought is necessary. The deterioration of organized thought and behavior associated with psychosis makes successful planning nearly impossible.

By contrast, serial killers are diagnosable with Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD), which is an ongoing carelessness for and violation of others’ rights. People with severe APD—like serial killers!—may also be called psychopathic. Psychopaths don’t experience normal guilt when they break rules or hurt people, so they lie, cheat, con, steal, and behave aggressively without qualms. In some cases, they’re also extremely charming.

…that modern electroconvulsive therapy (“shock therapy”) causes neither convulsions nor pain?

When most people think of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), they imagine someone strapped to a table while painful electrical currents are directed through his body, causing him to jitter and shake.

Electroconvulsive therapy works by triggering a seizure, but early instances of the treatment were “unmodified,” which means the person wasn’t given any medication to control the associated convulsions. Because in some cases the convulsions were so extreme that patients fractured or broken bones, treatment teams began to use muscle relaxants during the 1950s. Since it’s scary for most people not to be able to move, they also administer a general anesthetic. Brain activity caused by the seizures is monitored on a screen.

…that many therapists believe the examination of one’s childhood is unimportant or even irrelevant to therapy?

Only one branch of psychotherapeutic theory emphasizes how our childhoods affect us—the rest don’t. Most modern practitioners assume that what’s happened since childhood is at least as important, if not more important, than what happened to us as children.

Some therapists actually believe that discussion of the past is an attempt to escape responsibility for current life problems. Others believe that the social and cultural environments we live in are what cause problems.

Don’t Let This Happen to You!

On a season eight episode of Smallville, a show that chronicles Clark Kent’s life before he became Superman, EMT Davis Bloome is unable to control his dark side, Doomsday. Desperate to stop turning into a monster, Davis steals packages of “antipsychotics used for multiple personalities.”

In reality, multiple personality disorder (aka dissociative identity disorder or DID) is not a psychotic disorder. Therefore, there is no such thing as an antipsychotic (or any other medication) that suppresses personality changes in DID. Sorry, Davis!


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