Monday, February 23, 2009

American Neuropsychiatric Association Conference

I got back last night from attending the annual meeting of the American Neuropsychiatric Association which was held in San Antonio, Texas this year. San Antonio is a great city to visit and I was especially happy to be able to spend sometime with my niece and her husband who live there. As I mentioned before this meeting has become my favorite to attend because it is a mixture of psychiatrists, neurologists, and neuropsychologists all interested in psychiatric aspects of neurologic disorders and neurologic aspects of psychiatric disorders. It is a conference where brain meets behavior and is a mixture of some aspect basic neuroanatomy review, research findings and clinical issues. This year topics included the brainstem, psychiatric aspects of the right hemisphere, glial cells (which are the cells in the brain that support neurons), the brain and the law, new research in gene therapy and modulation, and the role of estrogen in neuropyschiatric disorders. I learned a lot and may share some information on these topics in upcoming posts.

The last day was devoted to clinical presentations and I was struck by two things. The first was to again be reminded how difficult real life situations of our patients are. No one has the answers to many of our questions but it is nice to hear how other practicioners deal with very difficult problems. I particularly enjoyed a presentation of two cases where a physician discussed the difficulties in assisting the severely intellectually disabled. He encouraged us all to approach our work with a spirit of humility and and attitude of listening, empathy, and open mindedness. The other thing that stuck me was the relative lack of attention payed to addiction or possible addictions in these very tough neuropsychiatric dilemmas. We still have a long way to go in educating physicians about the pervasive effects of alcoholism and other addictions.

Thought for the day

May I approach my work in a spirit of humility and an attitude of listening, open mindedness and empathy.

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