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Anyone see 20/20 - "My Strange Affliction"?

Discussion in 'Mindbody Video Library' started by Beach-Girl, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Beach-Girl

    Beach-Girl Well known member

    Last night 20/20 profiled a woman named Desiree Jennings. She claims a flu shot has been the cause of her odd symptoms that she's had for over 10 years. However the first neurologist she saw said she had PPD. She was outraged that this could be "all in her head".

    I saw it immediately as TMS/PPD before they arrived at this conclusion. However, this woman is still looking (now to other countries) for a cure. I only wish 20/20 had put the pieces together and talked about TMS a little. Guess they didn't think of it.


    Click here to see part of her story and see what you think!
  2. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I just watched this video and it is a pretty sad case. The interesting part is that her symptoms get worse the more she talks about her past. Sounds a lot like PPD to me. This form of ticks reminded me a lot of the Le Roy, NY case. It is so interesting at what symptoms the mind can create. In case you haven't seen it yet here it is.

  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Onset of symptoms on her anniversary day! OMG! There's a symbolic clue if I ever heard one. This young woman's behavior sounds so much like the hysterical symptoms that Jean-Martin Charcot observed in his patients in the late 19th century, the very same symptoms Freud used to base his theories of emotions repressed in the unconscious. Also, talk about an over-achieving alpha personality type: cheer leader, marketing major, runner, athlete. I'm really surprised that no one has approached her case from the MBS angle. Chelation therapy! I know that Dr. Sarno would say, Placebo! Then, this other guy trying to introduce 'secondary gain' theory: that's just what some people say about chronic pain too: a way of benefiting psychologically by getting attention! There's just got to be some repressed emotionality in her scenario that's driving her symptoms. Now, I've watched through to the end: one doctor does use the word "psychogenic" to describe her condition, but Desiree mistakenly thinks of it as "all in her head" rather "in her brain", regards it as a derogatory rather than a descriptive diagnosis. I wonder if she was hypnotized whether her symptoms would disappear? That's what Charcot would have done.
  4. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Gosh! That is really scary! My anxious mind jumps right away to, "What if that ever happened to me?" Boy, have I got a lot of work to do.

    It sure does sound like she has the personality type for TMS/PPD. I hope she gets better soon.
    MorComm likes this.
  5. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I feared most for her breathing disorder myself; like she might just stop breathing sometime and expire. But if you stop to consider that breathing is both voluntary and controlled by the autonomic nervous system, you have to conclude that her condition is very similar to TMS, but on a much, much worse scale. If the autonomic nervous system can reduce the flow of oxygen to the extremities, resulting in lower back pain and sciatica, it seems like it could also shut down respiration as well. But breathing is voluntary too as you notice as her husband instructs her to keep breathing I suppose by an act of will. I sure hope she gets better too! I wonder if anyone has tried to put her in touch with a TMS physician like Howard Schubiner? Sure sounds like it's worth the old college try!
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Morcomm, it's interesting that you mentioned the 19th century cases of hysteria, because that was the first thing I thought of. Especially the famous Freud and Bruer case of Anna O. I think this video really shows the wide variety of symptoms that our mind can create.

    I am sorry that you were scared by this. It by no means was my intention. Keep in mind that this is a very extreme case and goes way beyond the regular chronic pain associated with TMS/PPD. In the end, the symptom doesn't really matter if you view it as PPD. Regardless of what future symptoms may pop up I always just say that it's PPD, it's not a big deal, and I stop focusing/worrying about it. We can't worry about what symptoms we may get in the future. Doing so is simply thinking physical, instead of psychological. I truly believe that one of the reasons I have been able to stay symptom free (for the most part) is that I don't worry about symptoms and simply use them as a signal to focus on my emotions.
    MorComm likes this.
  7. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    I haven't gotten a chance to see the video yet (YouTube is blocked at work--boo!) but I don't think anything like this would happen to any of us...remember that a big part of TMS is the mind using pain to distract you from/alert you to feelings...once you know that is the strategy you're on the road to recovery. Pain has sort of moved around to me since I started working on TMS in January but it's definitely much less and less scary.
  8. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just happened to glance at the case of Anna O. this morning in Peter Gay's magisterial biography, Freud: A Life for Our Time, and happened to notice one interesting detail. Anna had devotedly been nursing her dying father for 5 years until her own hysterical symptoms became too great to continue. This sounds very much like cases of TMS where symptoms develop following some life-changing event like a divorce, death in the family, caring for a sick relative, losing your fortune, flunking out of school etc. etc. etc. Reminds me of my own "herniated disk" in 2001 that came just after the death of my own mother, who had seizures and dementia, whom I'd cared for for five years in a nearby nursing home. I know that some have suggested that Anna O. really had some form of epilepsy, but she did get better later on, which seems to discount that. What really piqued my curiosity though about Desiree Jennings was that one titbit of information dropped early on by her husband I think in the 20/20 segment: Desiree began to develop her symptoms on the anniversary of her dream marriage to the supposedly ideal guy. Suggests to me that there is some disconnect between her perfectionism and reality, but of course I don't have enough knowledge to draw any conclusions from. Too bad she got caught up in the mercury amalgam-anti-innoculation-chelation therapy trip. You can just see that she got better simply because she wanted to have faith in the treatment modality. And like any placebo cure, the symptoms then returned.

    Thanks for posting Forest: This case really got me thinking! Thinking about that name too: Desiree. Have to wonder what mom and pop were thinking when they selected that one - like Johnny Cash's "Boy Named Sue"?
  9. honeybear424

    honeybear424 Well known member

    Oh, no, Forest! I know you didn't mean to scare anyone. I was just saying that that's how my mind works. It's one of reasons why I don't like to watch scary movies or even the news. I am doing my best to stay in the now. :)
  10. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    The neurologist interviewed on 20/20 believes it is a psychogenic condition for sure. He posted on his blog about it.


    I remember reading about stuff like this 20 years ago when I was really into self help books... power of the mind, positive mental attitude, etc. Funny thing about is that while I believed that people could suffer from psychosomatic illnesses, i never thought that I would. In fact, I WAS suffering from it at that time. Low back pain was part of my life back then.

    I feel sorry for this poor woman and a little irked that the anti-vaccine folks taking advantage of her condition. Also the media and how they sensationalized the whole thing, but that's what they do.
    veronica73 likes this.
  11. veronica73

    veronica73 Well known member

    Favorite line from the neurologist's blog post:
    Enrique likes this.
  12. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    I see that the Steven Novella's blog site explains the nature of her psychogenic symptoms in greater detail:


    I recall that upper-class East Coast monied people used to send their kids to English boarding schools, married into the English aristocracy, and also adopted pseudo-British accents. Sort of like a 'preppy' accent today. Desiree does seem to be hyper-upward socially mobile, so perhaps affecting a British accent recalls a thwarted perfectionist ambition to rise up? Shouldn't make too much of it, but that's my take on her unconscious choice of accents. Last week one of my friends called me Dr. Freud! But he probably meant, a Neo-Freudian Marxist Revisionist reactionary!
  13. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    MorComm.. I read that blog post also. I love the conclusion of that post (quoted below) and even though the author has no idea about PPD/TMS (or at least he does not mention chronic pain as a possible psychogenic condition) he really hits the nail on the head with those statements.


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