Heart Attack May be in Your Head, Says City Doctor
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15 March 2011
Not all seizures are due to epilepsy. Nor is all chest pain due to heart disease. At least one third of all those who complain of diseases are just imagining it, said neuro–psychiatrist Dr ES Krishnamoorthy. The patients may have the symptoms but there may not be any clinical evidence, he added.
Dr Krishnamoorthy said there could be three reasons for false symptoms: Stress or depression, faking, or just a love of hospital stay. A hospital environment provides a feeling of security for some patients. "They may fake a disease to avoid events such as exams or police inquiry," he said during an endowment lecture organised by the Madras Psychology Society at the Madras University on Monday.
"You can see many of them carrying shopping bags that are filled with X–ray and scan reports, which clearly shows that they don’t have any disease," he told an auditorium of psychology students and professors. "It’s a huge public health issue as more than 30% of patients are in this category. But they can’t be ignored"
While it’s important to convince them that they do not suffer from any major physical problems, it is equally important for doctors to not rule out the possibility of the patients getting the disease later. "When a patient complains of chest pain, always ensure you rule out heart attack," he said.
In his three–part lecture, Dr Krishnamoorthy covered anatomy, psychology, neurology and the science and functions of the brain. He talked about the different functions of the left and right sides of the brain. He told students that during his morning walks with his two pets – a German shepherd and basset hound – he could recognise whose left brain was dominant and whose right brain was dominant.
Dr Krishnamoorthy’s German shepherd was obedient and required no leash. The hound, on the other hand, was curious, sniffing every human, animal or plant and never managed get rid of the leash.
That’s because the doctor’s German shepherd is leftbrained and the hound is rightbrained. Krishnamoorthy explained that left brain–dominant individuals tend to be more ideological and philosophical in their approach. Right brain–dominant people have a better appreciation of the world around them and have greater creative ability.
Brain dominance could offer a clue to understanding why people behave the way they do, he says.