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Adam Perkins, Lecturer in Neurobiology of Personality

Duo personality

Do you think a patient’s family and loved ones should be included in the management and treatment of their disorder, and if so, what’s the best way to include them?

Yes, I think they should be involved because that would provide support for the patient as they get better and make sure they take their medications, so ideally they should be involved from the outset.

What would you say has been your biggest achievement in your work over the last year?

It’s probably been linking anxiety with defensive behaviour, meaning we can explain anxiety in terms of dysfunction in brain systems that control threat response. So individuals who have hyperactivity in these defensive systems are the ones who are likely to be more sensitive to threat and therefore experience higher levels of anxiety over their lifespan.

We’re trying to unpick the causes of anxiety. It’s easy to just observe that some people are more anxious but why are they more anxious? And the reason, we think, is that they process threat in a magnified way.

Do you think this is going to lead towards treatment changes?

It gives us a new way of indexing treatment response, so carry on with your usual CBT, etcetera, and if that reduces the intensity of defensive behaviour on the task that we use, we can be pretty sure that it’s hitting the right targets.


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