Brain Dysfunctions

Q: Okay. You are a brain-function specialist. Periodically, I could swear my husband is intoxicated. I am sure I can smell alcohol on his breath. He adamantly protests that he has never ingested one drop of alcohol. I have combed the house and checked the trash—no evidence of bottles or cans—although my mother thinks he is lying. Any suggestions?

Q. I heard you say that anger is just a signal to get your attention and tell you your boundaries have been invaded. Okay, I get that. But I'm still fuming about that boundary invasion three days later.

Q. Both my little grandsons have been diagnosed with autism. I’m certain it was because they received immunizations as babies but someone recently told me that might not be true. What do you think?

Q. Today my brain feels totally bowed down with everything in my life and the chaos in my environment. I need a metaphor to help me breathe. Any ideas?

Q. We think that an elderly aunt is showing symptoms of cognitive brain decline and we're terrified she will cause an accident while driving. We tried to talk with her about her driving skills but "all hell broke loose" to put it mildly. What do we do now?

Q. Our son is very mildly on the Autism spectrum but he does daydream a lot. His school sent a note home saying he daydreams too much. They no longer want him and suggested he might do better in a homeschool setting. What do you say?

Q. My father has dementia and I keep asking myself if I contributed to this in any way? And when I try something that doesn’t work with him, I ask myself if I just didn’t do it right?

Q. My mom had a difficult childhood with a difficult mother (the woman that my mom is turning in to each and every day).  Her dad moved away to start a new family when my mom was 2 severing all ties to the family. In turn, my grandma sent my mom away to live with various relatives for sporadic amounts of time up until the age of 11. My mom says that there are big gaps of time in her childhood that she cannot remember. She remembers meeting her mother when she was 11 years old and was brought back to live with her and new stepdad, who proceeded to have three more girls. Guess what? My mom became their built-in babysitter. I am thinking this has to do with why my mom does not seem to “attach to people.” She seems to live in a state of every person for him or herself. Some days she is loving and wants us around and the next day she accuses us of mistreating her and of not meeting her needs and wants nothing to do with us. I swear that it’s like an 80-year-old acting like an angry 2-year-old. Crazy making! I could write pages about her behaviors that are driving all of us nuts trying to deal with her. What do you think is going on?

Q. What is your understanding of dissociated states? Are they the same as depersonalization or derealization? And what about amnesia? I'm confused!

Q. Something just really weird happened. Neighbors just moved in next door. They immediately raised the house about 5 feet and have dug a huge basement—without any windows. The fascinating thing is that the little five-year-old girl was in the yard yesterday. I greeted her and said, “Wow! That’s a big basement. What are you going to do in the basement?” I swear it was like the proverbial shutters came down behind her eyes. She was standing there but she wasn’t really there, if you know what I mean. After staring at me for a few seconds her little body started to shake and then she turned and ran back into the house. When I mentioned this to my husband he quipped, “Maybe they’re doing rituals in the basement and the little girl had dissociated.” Do you know what this means?

Q: Dyslexia runs in my family. I have learned what works for me and how to compensate for what is more difficult. Our son is having some math challenges and the teacher said he probably has something called dyscalculia. I am flummoxed. I never heard of this before!

Q: I fail to understand a comment you made when you said, “No one forces you to exhibit dysfunctional behaviors.” Then where do they come from?

Q: Is it possible to force mental illnesses on someone?   

Q. My friend and I are having an argument about how much water we need to drink to prevent brain shrinkage. My friend says ten eight-ounce glasses. I grew up being told I needed eight eight-ounce glasses. Please settle this once and for all.

Q. My father, aged 62, seems to be having memory problems. Do you think this could be related to his depression?

Q. Is my 22-year-old son at risk for making poor decisions until his brain is completely myelinated?

Q. My niece was just diagnosed with narcolepsy. It must have something to do with the brain. What can you tell me?

Q: I just heard that remaining optimistic and hopeful could have a positive impact on post-stroke cases. Can that possibly be real?

Q: Have you ever heard of prosopagnosia?

Q. At an Alzheimer’s support group I mentioned that I read aloud to a family member when I visit. There was a lively discussion about reading aloud—it benefits the person doing the reading but does it benefit the person being read to if they do not comprehend the words, or does hearing the words read to a person stimulate brain activity?

Q.  I fail to understand how some people don't seem to experience any remorse when they exhibit behaviors that are very hurtful to others. Don’t they have a conscience? Is this a brain thing?

Q. My husband was recently diagnosed with schizophrenia. He takes his medication for a few days and then as soon as he starts to feel better and his symptoms decrease, he stops taking it. It’s a real rollercoaster, believe me! His doctor says it’s due to Anosognosia but I don’t understand what that means. How do you live with someone who refuses to take his meds?

Q. My kindergarten-age child has a classmate who does not talk at school—to anyone. The teacher said the child has been diagnosed with “Selective Mutism,” but that’s all she knew. I never heard of anything like that. Does this mean the child “selects” who to talk to and who not to talk to? And does that “start in the brain,” too?

Q. My sister is dating someone who I think is showing sociopathic tendencies. Can you help me better understand what’s going on in that type of brain? I’m frightened although she doesn’t seem to be.

Q. At one of your seminars you told a story about a man who suffered a stroke and, subsequently, couldn’t recognize his wife’s face. Is that published anywhere?

Q. What type of brain engages in terrorist activities? I’m scared since 9/11!

Q. I’ve been reading about Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI. Now I heard that NFL legend Frank Gifford had something called CTE. What is that?

Q.  Recently I heard the acronym CTE. I have heard about TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury but not CTE. What is it?

Q.  Have there been any advances in figuring out a treatment for Alzheimer’s?

Q. I don’t understand a comment you made during one seminar when you said, “No one makes you exhibit dysfunctional behaviors.” Then where do they come from?

Q. What can you tell me about sleepwalking? Why does it occur? The 10-year-old daughter of my best friend has started to sleepwalk and it’s scary!

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