The Last Psychiatrist: Ramachandran’s Mirror

In my post 1. Make a Checklist 2. Save Lives I talked about the amazing results Peter Provonost is achieving with seemingly trivial checklists. He created a five-step checklist for putting in an IV and reduced infection rates to near-zero, saving hundreds of lives.

Here’s an article on another seemingly simple technique with remarkable results: The Last Psychiatrist: Ramachandran’s Mirror. Amputees with phantom limb syndrome often suffer agonizing pain from cramps in limbs that aren’t there (and therefore can’t be relaxed). This pain can often be relieved simply by using a mirror to fool the brain into thinking the limb is in place, and clenching/unclenching a few times.

The point of the article isn’t the technique itself. It’s about the fact that the author, a psychiatrist, knew about Ramachandran’s Mirror for years before considering trying it with a particular patient.

In both cases, the problem is one of perception. Doctors think a checklist, especially a simple one, is unnecessary, and aren’t prepared to consider the facts. Likewise, things like Ramachandran’s Mirror, which actually work, aren’t considered, probably because they seem similar to other things (homeopathy comes to mind) that don’t.

The whole thing reminds me of “thinking jail.”

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2 thoughts on “The Last Psychiatrist: Ramachandran’s Mirror

  1. Pingback: Apparently the writers of “House” read this blog « Geoff Canyon’s Appeal to Authority

  2. Pingback: Complete this quote: “There is considerable debate surrounding the issue of…” « Neuroanthropology

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