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Caitlin Jeschke's picture

Drugs v. Therapy?

This topic reminds me of the discussion we had in class about treating disorders with chemicals (drugs) v. therapy.  On Tuesday, we talked about two different ways to treat pain in phantom limbs-either create some sort of sensory input (i.e. the reflection of a healthy limb) that tells the body that the missing limb is in fact OK, or alter the corollary discharge so that the pain that is being experienced matches what the body perceives the limb to be doing (someone mentioned that pretending to bang a missing foot on the floor helped to alleviate phantom pain in that foot).  Either way, the reafferent loop and the corollary discharge signals are made to match one another, and then the pain is relieved.  Perhaps drugs and therapy work in a similar manner. Introducing chemicals into the body can alter feedback/the reafferent loop.  If, as it has been suggested, the I-function is capable of strongly influencing corollary discharge (and I realize that this is a big if), then maybe a person undergoing therapy is learning how to use this influence.  Just as similar results are observed for both methods of phantom limb treatment, both therapy and drugs have been shown to be affective in the treatment of physical and mental disorders.  The huge amount of variability in NS structure between individuals can then explain why various treatments affect different people in such different ways.

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