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Magnetic Resonance Therapy for Mental Disorders: new and controversial

2020-08-21
a brain image, courtesy of pixabay.com

This article, published in February by inewsource, recounts the ordeal of a former Navy SEAL veteran who suffered a psychotic break after intensive treatment with a new and controversial therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.)

Magnetic Resonance Therapy (MRT) is based on the technique used to create medical images of body parts called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI.) The technique of MRT has been used for thirty or more years to treat depression, with some success.

Personalized MRT (PrMRT) uses magnetic energy synchronized with the patient’s electroencepahalogram (EEG– a recording of “brain waves” or brain electrical activity from scalp electrodes.) PrMRT is still in the research phase and has not been fully validated. Some doctors think it is effective for autism, PTSD, and other disorders.

This is a long, fascinating (to me) article about a man who suffered from severe PTSD as a result of his military training and experience that was followed by a serious car crash. The article also delves into the story of the treating physician who administered the PrMRT.

The article dissects the hubris of the treating physician, who is not a psychiatrist (as one would expect treating a patient with PTSD) but a neuro-oncologist. He is shown engaging in “research” (as he describes it, though it is more like fiddling around as I would describe it.)

He uses the new treatment modality, magnetic resonance therapy, and develops it into this personalized form (actually he learns it from a recognized clinic that is using it and then steals their research.) The doctor is shown receiving a $10 million grant to do the “research” from the estate of a patient he treated for brain dysfunction after chemotherapy for cancer.

The patient in the article– the former Navy SEAL– did not have cancer. He had (and still has) PTSD. He developed an acute manic episode after treatment, which is a known side effect of MRT. The doctor failed to recognize this and continued to apply the treatment, with tragic results.

Read the article when you have time, to get a nuanced picture of what happens when you have a manic episode and why doctors (who aren’t psychiatrists) can’t recognize mania when it interferes with their income stream.

Ordinary MRT is somewhat effective for depression, but it can sometimes cause mania. It should only be administered under the supervision of a psychiatrist. It is covered under Medicare.

If you have any thoughts or feelings about suicide that trouble you, there is help available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255. Just saying, there is always help available and you don’t have to have electrodes stuck to your head to get it.

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