17 June 2013
Dr. Robert McCarthy Interview - Part 3: IM Suite | PTI Protocol | A Case Study
Dr. Robert McCarthy is the author of the new Integrative Medicine software suite published by the BFE. We recently had a chance to ask him a few questions about his approach to Integrative Medicine. This is the final post of a three part series.
Click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2.
What is the Integrative Medicine Suite?
It is a comprehensive package that will allow [clinicians] to do everything with patients from intake through state-of-the-art psychophysiological assessment and risk profiles for development of psychophysiological disease, to structuring the practice in a way that can help employees organize themselves in the same direction. So what I think that it is really unique about our suite is its thoroughness and comprehensiveness and its A-to-Z format. (The suite is an add-on to Biograph Infiniti software.)
How do you see the Integrative Medicine Suite standing apart from other BFE suites?
Well the thing that makes the Integrative Medicine Suite appealing is its incorporation of a voluminous amount of forms and assessment techniques and paper-and-pencil assessment techniques and practice structure that I know a lot of the other suites do not offer.
One of the features of the suite is the Paradoxical Temperature Increase protocol. Could you talk a bit about that?
The paradoxical temperature increase phenomenon has been observed and studied for a rather substantial period but has not gotten the focus that it really should. Paradoxical temperature increase is associated with trauma. It's a standard measure of post-traumatic stress disorder and also a measure of which medical patients are predisposed and at greater risk to develop psychophysiological disease. It's an objective measure to the degree at which someone has been adversely affected by trauma and victimized in some form or fashion during their developing and how it contributes to the predisposition to develop psychophysiological disease.
Paradoxical temperature increase may also be a way of screening medical patients for who represents the greatest need group to get involved with biofeedback and other forms of psychophysiological treatment.
The PTI Protocol looks for a paradoxical temperature increase marker, or PTI marker. What does it mean when an individual shows that marker?
What's interesting is that the PTI marker is seemingly not modified by talk-therapy involvement. It only responds and disappears in reaction to biofeedback treatment. We need to do, in particular, peripheral finger tip temperature training and skin conductance work to really eliminate this marker. The question becomes, and time will tell as we do subsequent scientific research, the paradoxical temperature marker's disappearance in essence lowers our predisposition and risk for development of later-life psychophysiological disease. I suspect based on the research I have already done that is going to be the case in the future.
Dr. McCarthy will be hosting a series on online sessions during which he will present case studies from his practice and share his expertise participants.
Integrative vs. Traditional Medicine – A Case Study
Let’s use an interesting case for purposes of our discussion that I only saw two weeks ago. This mid-life woman woke up one day and felt her whole face was paralysed. She became petrified and immediately went to see her primary care doctor. Her primary care doctor referred her to a neurologist; the neurologist then evaluated this patient and referred her to an expert in myasthenia gravis. Loss of facial muscle control can be an early sign of myasthenia gravis. He then requested an MRI and concluded this patient did not have myasthenia gravis. It's at this point after extensive medical examination void of biological findings and financial expense that we usually receive referrals. You might imagine how happy these patients are at this point. No one has been able to figure out what’s going on so the conclusion almost always is either nothing, or a mental health problem. Once sitting down and talking with this patient at length, I learned something that no one else knew about because she never told them. In the six months immediately preceding paralysis of her face, she had received thirty botox treatments across her forehead from a local nurse. Her reason for not telling the other professionals involved in this case was two-fold: (1) the nurse who gave her the botox treatment said this couldn't possibly be the etiology of her facial paralysis; and, (2) she was embarrassed that she had done this to herself and that the physicians might scold or be critical of her. Such patient fears representing unresolved parent-child conflict, is not uncommon.
In some research surveys, as many as 60% of medical patients admit to doing or taking things that they would never share with their physician for fear of being ridiculed, laughed at or dismissed. This ranged from cosmetic procedures to over-the-counter supplements, vitamin-based health fruit drinks, etc. In reality, what this means is that physicians are treating approximately 60% of patients blind-folded and without knowledge of their entire circumstances.
We routinely do a detailed, comprehensive evaluation and learn a great deal about patients. We know from a lot of what we see on television, and in the media with movie stars, that it is possible to have adverse reactions to botox injections. There's even been a recent study that suggested botox crosses the blood-brain barrier and can potentially destroy neurons. Such information is certainly not being given to the public in terms of making a totally informed choice or informed consent.
What other examples can you share about how your approach helped to address mind-body issues?
Another case involved a client who went through $30k or $40k worth of medical tests, and everyone involved agreed that they could not find any biological basis for her symptoms. Physicians often make the mistake of telling people there is nothing wrong with them, rather than requesting integrative medicine consultation. In this particular lady's case, her hair started falling out, her gastrointestinal distress flared up, and she could not sleep. She then made the rounds starting with a primary care doctor, endocrinologist for blood tests and radiologist for a CT scan. People were genuinely concerned she might have some form of cancer. Once cancer was ruled out, she was referred to us for further consultation.
Immediately upon talking to her she said: ”I came here because a friend of mine told me I need to, but this can't possibly be related to anything emotional.” The patient then proceeded to tell me she has a marriage that makes her want to pull her hair out. You get these dynamically-meaningful metaphorical statements from medical patients all the time. With minimal inquiry, she proceeded to tell me that her son, who was in his 20s, was jogging a few years ago, and dropped-dead of a heart attack. Even the autopsy was unable to determine the cause of death which still haunts her. She then told me about a host of other tragedies and trauma incurred over the course of her lifetime, but saw them as isolated incidents without any lasting impact on her well-being. In summary, she still harbored a tremendous amount of unresolved grief over her son’s death, exacerbating a chronic post-traumatic stress disorder developed during childhood when she repetitively witnessed an alcoholic father brutally beat siblings, but not her. People don't usually connect earlier life trauma with adult physical symptoms, but they are connected; and, physicians as a rule don't have the mental health background to connect these pieces of the puzzle. Even battered woman or men who are still being physically abused by their spouse don’t reveal these circumstances out of guilt and shame.
Your integrative medicine approach seems to address many of the problems in today’s healthcare system. Why isn’t this approach the norm?
The allopathic medical community, and there are exceptions, remains antagonist toward the integrative medicine field and any treatments that do not employ medication or surgery. Comparatively, osteopathic physicians having been trained to appreciate the multi-factorial complexity of health issues, and, in that sense, are aligned with mental health professionals as an outgrowth of training.
This covert tolerance, sanctioning and condoning of the medical field’s antagonism and abrasiveness toward other health care professions, as well as frequent dismissal of valid scientific tools and treatment approaches like qEEGs, neurofeedback, biofeedback, etc. must stop. Patients being disempowered by being told that all their physical problems are genetic, they will need to take medication forever, and there is nothing they can do, without awareness or access to integrative medicine alternatives, remains a sad social injustice.
I have a head-injured woman we are working with whose mother brought her to a regional medical center that specializes in head-injury treatment. This mother was so impressed by the changes in alertness she saw in her daughter, that she asked the doctor who was in charge of the entire regional medical center head-injury clinic, "Do you know anything about neurofeedback?" The specialist openly admitted she had never heard of neurofeedback. The patient’s mother then said, "Well I know Dr. McCarthy would be the kind of person who would be more than glad to give you information or talk to you about it". The physician looked up and said “I'm not interested in it and we have no interest in ever using it here". Now, that kind of response is extremely foreign to me because as a practicing clinician for the past forty years I’ve always been avidly interested in anything that holds some promise for helping patients.
And that nicely sums up Dr. McCarthy’s commitment and dedication to providing the best possible care for his patients. The BFE is pleased to offer online Case Conferences during which Dr. McCarthy shares case studies from his practice along with his expertise in the field. To learn more about the contents of the Integrative Medicine software suite, click on the link below to view an introductory video.
Integrative Medicine Software Suite - Video
Integrative Medicine Software Suite
Online Case Case Conferences with Dr. McCarthy
Integrative Medicine Online Class
Any questions can be directed to the BFE Integrative Medicine team at email@example.com.