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1. Ramachandran, V. S. (2005, September). Vestibular stimulation as therapy for bipolar illness, complex regional pain, PTSD, and phantom pain. Presentation at the annual meeting of the EMDR International Association, Seattle, WA.
Our lab specialized in the study of behavioral/cognitive changes following focal brain lesions. Phenomena were once considered mere curiosities - such as phantom limb, anosognosia and synesthesia - have now become "main stream" partly as a result of the work done by us and many colleagues throughout the world. This lecture will focus on disturbances in body image, phantom limbs, anosognosia (denial of paralysis) and somatoparaphrenia (denial of ownership of a limb). A new theory will be advanced to account for these, especially the latter two in terms of asymmetries between the two hemispheres "coping styles"; the left involved in "Freudian defences" aud the right playing thc role of a "devils advocate" or anomaly detector. The spectrum of normal and abnormal personality styles and behavior emerges from a push-pull antagonism between these two opposing tendencies. Vestibular stimulation through calorie cold-water irrigation produces eye movements (nystagmus) and shifts the balance between the two hemispheres during the "orienting" response and produces profound shifts in mood and/or body image. We found that the procedure "de-represses" apparently repressed memories in patient with denial (anosognosia) and there is an obvious analogy here with the therapeutic claims of EMDR. The possibility that bipolar disorder may be based on such alternation between hemispheres was first proposed by us in 1996 and has received some support. Consequently caloric nystagmus might potentially be useful in treating disorders such as bipolar, post-traumatic stress, complex regional pain type 1, and other neuro-psychiatric disturbances as outlined briefly in my book Phantoms in the Brain.
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