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V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I

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jeanette
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Post  Martijn (admin) Sun Sep 26, 2010 5:16 pm

cshahar wrote:Hi Martijn (and anyone else interested).
...
Now to the question of whether we can diagnose mental illness through the palm: The answer is not really. There are several reasons for this:

1. Some of the features found in the palms of schizophrenics or manic depressives are also found in the hands of people who would be considered in the “normal” range of mental functioning.
Hello Charles!!

Thank you for your excellent review of Charlotte Wolff's research. I understand all points that you've made - and I can confirm far most of your points (though one should notice that Wolff's innovative studies were performed 60 years ago... so, how surprizing is it that some of her comments regarding the etiology & vocabulary related to schizophrenia are outdated?).

Basically, I have spotted only one problem in your 'answer' ... specified to your very first conclusion (which I have quoted above).

For, the first aspect of your conclusions suggests... that you expected (or hoped) that Wolff had found very UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS in the hands of schizophrenics - which are never found in the hands of other ('normal') people.

However, Charles, using such a criterium... is not even applicable to the typical hand characteristics in Down's syndrome!! While it is a 100% fact that it is actually quite easy to recognize Down's syndrome from a pair of hands - but for sure... one really has to focuss on COMBINATIONS of hand characteristics.

Back to Wolff's research....

My major 'disappointment' regarding her work is exactly this point: in her studies Wolff has not focussed at all on studying the occurence of specific combinations... which should really the basis of any diagnostic procedure based on the hands.


Charles, I'll provide you a specific example:

Wolff's studies revealed that a 'too long fifth finger' has been found in about 44% of the studied schizophrenics (109 out of 245 patients). While in all other populations this percentage for the occurence of a 'too long fifth finger' was much lower: below 22% (epileptics: 21%, paraphrenics: 17%, manic-depressive: 9%), and in normal people in between (chidren: 12%).

Wolff's studies revealed that a 'simian' has been found in about 15% of the studied schizophrenics (37 out of 245 patients). While in most other populations this percentage for the occurence of a 'simian line' was much lower (epileptics: 15%, paraphrenics: 11%, manic-depressive: 5%), and in normal people in between (chidren: 5%).

Now... could the combination of a 'too long 5th finger' + a 'simian line' be a SIGNIFICANT MARKER for schizophrenia???

The answer might be 'yes' (both for males and females) ...but Wolff didn't study this specific question!

(NOTICE: While the 'simian line' is common in Down's syndrome, the combination with a 'too long fifth' finger is rarely seen in Down's syndrome - because trisomy 21 is typically featured a 'too short 5th finger', etc... I hope this makes sense!)


PS Beyond Wolff's schizophrenia study, I think the following studies are representative for how researchers today try use various finger length ratios in the perspective of personality / psychological traits:

- 2005: http://priory.com/psych/FP23.pdf
- 2009: https://genepi.qimr.edu.au/contents/p/staff/LoehlinArcSexBEH298-305.pdf

(And I could add that during the past decade various 2D:4D studies have indicated that schizophrenia is typically featured with a feminized 'digit ratio')
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Post  Lynn Sun Sep 26, 2010 6:57 pm

A few other considerations about Charlotte Wolff's work, especially thinking about background conditions at the time she did her studies. (NB I have read more about her mental handicap studies than mental illness). Please forgive outdated terminology some of which these days can be considered offensive - no offense intended, I am quoting terms officially used at the time.

Although I think Charlotte Wolff was way ahead of her time, we have to remember that her research was done 60-70 years ago.
She did some research at St Lawrence's Hospital in Caterham, which was set up in 1870 to care for people with mental illness and people with mental handicap. These people mainly came from the London workhouses "insane paupers". Some children - who were 'difficult', from poor families, or even just illegitimate, were placed in such institutions. Wolff was aware that many people in such hospitals were misdiagnosed and misclassified - indeed this was still the case when my husband worked at St Lawrence's 40 years later.

For example, intelligent people who had cerebral palsy or deafness, were placed in wards with severely mentally handicapped people, because of communication difficulties or other problems which made them appear less intelligent than they really were. St Lawrence's most famous patient was Joey Deacon who had cerebral palsy, admitted to the hospital at age 8 after his mother died, it wasn't until 40 years later that another patient managed to understand that Joey could communicate. Joey was actually intelligent and all those years had been trying to communicate, but because people only heard 'incoherent noises' he was deemed to be 'of subnormal intelligence'. Joey would have been at the hospital during the time of Wolff's studies, and indeed others like him. So, some of the people she studied would not necessarily be accurately placed within the various classifications of "feeble minded, low-grade imbeciles, idiots" etc.

Even if these children were within normal range of mental IQ and mental health at time of being admitted to the hospital, it is not surprising if some developed mental illness or learning difficulties through conditions of living at the hospital.

Various syndromes that we are aware of now, were not diagnosed in Wolff's day, eg autistic spectrum disorder. She says that Down's syndrome is endocrine origin, but we now know it is a chromosome disorder (trisomy 21). So of course she was limited by the knowledge of the time.

Some thoughts about aspects of the hands that she studied:

She says that concave primary nails are significant in the hands of "mental defectives" - ie. short broad nails with (no lunula) and a spoon-shaped concavity. This is also found in syphilis which in her day was frequently a hereditary/congenital cause of mental handicap & epilepsy. Concave nails can be a sign of malnutrition, especially iron-deficiency anaemia. The hospital diets were very poor, not balanced. It would be interesting to see if concave primary nails are still significant in today's people with learning difficulties, given improved diets and decreased incidence of maternal syphilis.

Flexibility of fingers - Wolff comments that the high % of stiff hands in younger patients may be explained by "an unusual state of nervous tension conditioned by superimposed psychosis" (she recognises that some of the mentally handicapped may have also had a mental illness, a fact which has often been ignored until even recently). However, I think there could have been other factors - perhaps the institutionalisation, but more relevant maybe the crude drugs that were used at the time, probably some type of barbiturate. These drugs were still quite experimental at the time. eg It is now known that some of the drugs they used to treat mental illness can cause Parkinson disease type side-effects which makes the hands stiffer. There is nothing that records whether any physical handicap was taken into account eg cerebral palsy causes spasm & rigidity, the characteristic spasticity of the fingers.

Some of Wolff's control (and studied) figures seem rather surprising.
eg arched fingerprints in control goup - 20%. Seems high, I thought average distribution of arches was more like 8%? In some tables she doesn't give control frequencies.

defects & islands in upper transverse crease seem low figures, both in controls (none had 'other defects', only 20% had islands) & studied patients (30% had islands), given that around 50% (sorry I didn't note where I got that figure from) of mentally handicapped people have some emotional difficulties and that long-stay hospitals produce emotional problems in patients.

Wolff doesn't mention how many of the people studied had Down's syndrome.
I'm not sure whether her definition of Simian line is the same as ours? In "The Human Hand" she says it is "when the lower transverse crease traverses the whole palm horizontally from outer to inner edge". But doesn't mention whether upper transverse crease is present - could she be describing a sydney line? Elsewhere she says Simian line is when lower transverse crease is missing or reduced to a a subsidiary branch.

sorry for lengthy post, I'll leave it here before you fall asleep... Razz

[edit]- I know I have spoken mainly about Wolff's work on people with learning difficulties, and the thread is about "Can mental Illness be diagnosed from the hand". Although I love Charlotte Wolff's work, given the constraints on knowledge at the time, and the situations of the people that she studied, I don't think we can decide from her work whether it is possible to diagnose mental illness from the hand. It would be good to see these studies repeated in modern times.
(edited several times due to typos & omissions).
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Post  Martijn (admin) Mon Sep 27, 2010 10:11 pm

Lynn wrote:... [edit]- I know I have spoken mainly about Wolff's work on people with learning difficulties, and the thread is about "Can mental Illness be diagnosed from the hand". Although I love Charlotte Wolff's work, given the constraints on knowledge at the time, and the situations of the people that she studied, I don't think we can decide from her work whether it is possible to diagnose mental illness from the hand. It would be good to see these studies repeated in modern times.
(edited several times due to typos & omissions).
Hi Lynn,

Thank you for your efforts - I think you've managed to describe very well how her studies should be seen in the perspective of time. And that was even long ago before the 70's when most experts thought that 'autism' was caused by bad mothers, etc.

(I am sure that likewise processes took place regarding the perceptions on schizophrenia)

scratch ...I remember about 15 years ago, that I heard about the idea that some experts even believe that 'schizophrenia' might include some other (genetic) diseases that have not been described/discovered yet.

Such a process has already evolved regarding 'autism' - where over the years quite a few different labels became available to discriminate autism from 'fragile-X syndrome', 'Asperger's syndrome', etc.

While in Wolff's days autism had already been discriminated from schizophrenia - some behavioral aspects can 'look' the same in the eyes of laymen (while obviously both disorders have a completely different etiology, etc).

So, we should also realize that Charles... really choose to focuss at once on THE most complex psychiatric disorder of all (well-known) disorders.


Edit: Fact is, that in schizophrenia there are not many 'always present' characteristics - if there are any: see the picture below. So, regarding the hypothesis of 'diagnosis of schizophrenia via the hand' we should try to avoid unrealistic expectations... nor 'hunt' for results that meet high requirements.

V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Schizophrenia
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V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Empty Diagnosing Mental Illness

Post  cshahar Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:27 am

Hi:

Sorry about responding to everyone in one post. But thank you so much for your insights. They were very helpful.

In the order of response:

Felicity, I found your description of the Solomon Islander and his mystic crosses and short head line quite interesting. It brought to mind the thought that mysticism and mental illness may be far closer to one another than one might suspect. Both might involve similar chemical processes in the brain. And one might say that the ancient mystics and prophets often exhibited behaviors that could have been interpreted as “deranged”. In fact, there are cases of people who dabble in mysticism (such as the Kabbalah) and who lapse into a mental meltdown because they are not able to handle where such knowledge takes them.

Lynn, I would love to know what Talma’s findings were. 1998 was a long time ago, but of course, I respect the issue of confidentiality. I couldn’t find anything related to her on the internet. Perhaps she never published, or more likely, it never made its way to the Internet.

Sucom, that is an interesting point. I will keep my eyes open for such “conflicted” signs and their meanings.

Martijn: As usual, you offer the wisdom of experience. Yes, of course, finding a combination of signs, rather than focusing on their isolation, would have enhanced the validity and reliability of her findings. There are so many statistical tests that can be done to identify clusters of patterns. But of course, we would need the raw data to reach any such conclusions. It is interesting that more research has not been done on this topic. I wonder whether the bureaucratic nature of current institutions would make it more difficult to conduct such research.

Lynn, what you say is right on. The diagnosis of mental illness in those days was often arbitrary or misguided. Diagnosticians often saw what they wanted to see. Was it Rosenhan’s study I think in the mid-1970’s that revealed just how biased psychiatric evaluations really were? And I am sure there are still many abuses. Indeed, there are so many other intervening factors involved (lack of stimulation in institutional life, poor diet, the fact that some individuals experience multiple disorders, etc. etc.). It is all quite difficult to tease out. One would have to control for numerous factors to really begin to see how the palm can reveal what is going on.Thank you for many great observations.

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Post  Martijn (admin) Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:43 am


Great post Charles!! Thumbs up!
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Post  asif amin Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:15 pm


Related to this topic I have some reference hand prints of schizophrenia ,mentally retarded and mentally disorder patients. This hand print is scanned from M.A Malik's book " The new horizon in Palmistry"

V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 A110
V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 A210
V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 A310
V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 A410
V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 A510
V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 A610


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V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Empty Great prints...

Post  cshahar Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:08 am

These are fantastic Asif! Thank you for your efforts. I must have missed this post. I would love to get a copy of Malik's book. Any suggestions as to where I can find it?

Thanks,

-Charles

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Post  asif amin Tue Oct 05, 2010 7:46 am

cshahar wrote:These are fantastic Asif! Thank you for your efforts. I must have missed this post. I would love to get a copy of Malik's book. Any suggestions as to where I can find it?

Thanks,

-Charles

Regarding this book sent you a PM (private message ).
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Post  Martijn (admin) Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:09 pm


Hello Charles & Asif,

I would love to hear your thoughts about mr. Malik's presentation!?


From my side, I would like to make a few critical notes regarding Malik's presetation:

For, obviously - despite the fact that Malik described in his book that not all mentally retarded/mentally disordered patients had some abnormalities in their headline (only 20%... ???) - ALL COMMENTS featured with Malik's picture suggest that there is a direct connection between those head line characteristics and their disorder.

Sorry guys, I am sceptical about Malik's presentation... because I am aware that quite a few very intelligent people (I've got a large sample of University students in my collection) have likewise major abnormalities in their head line!


I hope - after our earlier discussion about this topic - that you both are aware of Holtzman's word's:

"There is one rule in handreading in psychological diagnosis which overrides all others. This one rule holds that everything modifies everything else. Everything has an influence on everything else, and everything is influenced by evertything else."

(PsychoDiagnostic Chirology in Analysis and Therapy, page 2)

V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Arnold-holtzman-pdc


confused I am not 100% sure, but... I have the impression that mister Malik doesn't seem to be aware of this basic rule in chirology / modern hand reading.

Again, Charles + Asif... I would love to hear your thoughts!


Thanks!

PS. I think it is also worisome that Malik also present a 'mix' of example of mentally retarded patients... and people who suffer on psychopathology (such as schizophrenia); for I think it is obvious that one should associate nor 'mix' both groups of patients - simply because they suffer on a completely different pathology.

thinking I would have expected a more 'skilled' approach from a psychologist. How does my explanation sound to you ...???
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Post  asif amin Wed Oct 13, 2010 6:49 pm

Dear Martijin,

Thanks for sharing your experience and comments both . I have been long waiting for your response. At my side M.A Malik is very brilliant in palmistry and his publication was not very old it was about 1999.

Anyway, He is also expert in psychology and has more than 40 years teaching experience of psychology in a university of Pakistan and Canada both.

His works consists of researched based. According to him he has been working and researching on palmistry since 1940 for this purpose he traveled a lot and burn midnight oil in a library.

Yes, I agree with you in some instance he is not much perfect. As far as my personal experience is concerned I observed many hands with head lines are islanded and broken but these types of people are very intelligent and some are indulging themselves in a teaching profession.

Martijin, I would like to start new thread as a psycho patients hand. Some of them related to M.A Malik's books in order to you understand his theory in a better way. What's your opinion? And some hand prints are really interesting for forum members.
.
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Post  Martijn (admin) Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:18 pm

Hi Asif,

Yes, I think you understood my point - and I can relate very well to your own experience with people who have "hands with head lines are islanded and broken but these types of people are very intelligent and some are indulging themselves in a teaching profession."

That relates exactly to the point that I made!

Thumb up

Regarding your idea about creating a new thread about people with specific psychological problem - yes, I like it very much: so you're very welcome to take the initiative.

Especially if you are able to present example which meet the following three requirements: (1) QUALITY handprint examples from Malik's book, with (2) all five fingers visible, and (3) featured with a diagnosis... I think such examples could indeed initiate some nice discussions!

Thumbs up!

Asif, I am looking forward to see the examples that you have in mind!
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Post  asif amin Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:13 am

Dear Martijin,
Thanks for appreciation.
Thanks!
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Post  cshahar Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:59 pm

Hi Martijn:

I think Malik makes the point that these are the "best examples" or the most reflective of the mental condition in question. Of course, these are selected by him to dramatize the hand features. I have no problem with that, as long as we keep in mind that they represent extreme varieties, which is what I think you are saying. I still find them very interesting.

I think it speaks to the question regarding whether we wish to take the "abnormal model" or "normal model" of human behavior. What I am saying is that we can study the most abnormal hands to understand better what a hand in the normal range might be. On the other hand, there are many people with "normal" hands, who might have severe psychological difficulties, so the reasoning here might be a bit circular.

-Charles
.


Last edited by cshahar on Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Empty Probabilistic palmistry

Post  cshahar Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:13 pm

Martijn, I just wanted to mention one additional thing. Science in the social domain (psychology, sociology, etc.) focuses on probabilities. There are no formulas when it comes to human nature. Hence, why should one expect anything different from palmistry? In fact, it is unfair and silly to demand a greater accuracy from palmistry than even what much more established disciplines offer. You know the predictive value of personality tests, and psychometrics in general. To look for formulas in palmistry is untenable. On the other hand, one can look for patterns and their probabilities.

So why do we have such high expectations among the public?? The answer I think is partly due to the exaggerated claims and sensationalism practiced by many palmistry books today. Conversely, it is also because some palmistry books claim that the discipline is a scientific one. The true state of affairs lies somewhere in between.

Bottom line: Probabilities are not sexy!

-Charles

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Post  Martijn (admin) Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:40 pm

Lynn wrote:Aug 16th Charles said
cshahar wrote:Do you have a summary of your notes related to depression and schizophrenia, i.e. the most prominent signs?
Hi Charles sorry I took some time to get back to you. I found the notes from the seminar but I remember now we were told to keep the schizophrenia study for our private ref, as the scientific study hadn't been published - that was 1998. I don't know if it ever was published, I can't find it online. The woman who was doing the study was Talma Brill from Israel. There were 7 parameters that she found significant in the hands of schizophrenics.
We didn't study depression at the seminar.

...
Hi Lynn,

I would love to hear more about the 7 parameters that Talma Brill found to be significant for the hand in schizophrenia, are you able to share more details?

wave 

PS. I also discovered today that her research has been published in a (Hebrew) book, see:
http://www.chirology.co.il/english/research/


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Post  Lynn Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:57 pm

AHA! Before your PS, I also just found Talma's website. Great to see that her results were published, but shame that I can't read Hebrew. I have just contacted Talma via her website, to tell her that you are interested in her work and to ask if she will comment on this discussion.
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Post  Martijn (admin) Sun Sep 15, 2013 12:58 pm

Thanks! 
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Post  Lynn Sun Sep 15, 2013 1:13 pm

Martijn, I think your question about parameters may be answered in this article of Talma's from the Israel-Journal-of-psychiatry.

http://www.chirology.co.il/english/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Israel-Journal-of-psychiatry.pdf
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V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Empty Interesting article, Lynn!

Post  cshahar Sun Sep 15, 2013 3:53 pm

Apparently 95.2% of psychiatric patients show abnormal head lines, whereas 42.9% of controls do. At least from this small sample, the suggestion is that almost all patients with mental illness have abnormal head lines, but so do almost half of "normal" people. It can be thought of as a "warning signal", but not definitive. A quick check of her findings suggests that flexibility of the hand (or lack of it) is the most common marker for mental illness, relative to those who don't display such problems.

-Charles

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Post  Lynn Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:12 pm

Charles said -
the suggestion is that almost all patients with mental illness have abnormal head lines, but so do almost half of "normal" people.
Of course this is a difficult subject to have a control group.
Not like eg when studying Down's sydrome - if the control group don't have Down's syndrome, you know they are never going to develop it!
But in this study, although the control group had never received psychiatric or psychological treatment during their lives, there is no way of knowing exactly how many people out of this control group might go on to develop mental illness later in their lifetime.
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Post  cshahar Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:37 pm

Absolutely right. There are many other issues that creep in, a few of which she mentions. So what is needed is an extensive study that has more statistical heft behind it. But I wonder whether such studies will be nothing more than curiosity pieces for the mainstream clinical community, who won't likely switch to reading palms for diagnostic purposes. It is professional palm readers who may benefit more from this analysis.

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Post  Martijn (admin) Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:32 pm

Lynn wrote:Martijn, I think your question about parameters may be answered in this article of Talma's from the Israel-Journal-of-psychiatry.

http://www.chirology.co.il/english/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Israel-Journal-of-psychiatry.pdf
Yes indeed!

Thumbs up!

PS. Interesting study for sure, though it's also a bit disappointing to see that no results at all have been reported for the schizophrenics in specific - especially since I am aware that regarding the hands of schizophrenics very different results have been published compared to other psychiatric populations.
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Post  Martijn (admin) Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:00 pm

cshahar wrote:Apparently 95.2% of psychiatric patients show abnormal head lines, whereas 42.9% of controls do. At least from this small sample, the suggestion is that almost all patients with mental illness have abnormal head lines, but so do almost half of "normal" people. It can be thought of as a "warning signal", but not definitive. A quick check of her findings suggests that flexibility of the hand (or lack of it) is the most common marker for mental illness, relative to those who don't display such problems.

-Charles
Excellent observations Charles!

I have just checked the strength of the results for the individual features (via log odds ratios); the results for feature 12 (anomalies in proximal palmar line) and feature 3 (flexibility) are indeed most significant... followed by feature 6 (underdeveloped upper ulnar).

thinking Interesting to see that the two most significant features relate to the two most significant perspectives of the hand ('hand lines' & 'hand motorics') that I have noticed so far based on the 30 studies reported for the hand in schizophrenia inside my article (I say this being aware that Brill has not reported any results for the schizoprenics in specific).

The underdeveloped upper ulnar could relate to the lack of 'expression of the outer hand' factors which have been reported in the Haft-Pomrock study: http://www.mhpublications.com/Difference.htm


PS. Yes, the research method is not very specified; the 'distribution' result presented in figure 1 looks quite impressive at first sight... but I think it should be evaluated in the perspective of the fact that the authors do admit (on page 109):

"Further the open nature of this study raises the possibility of bias. In deciding between the presence of absence of a measure, the difference between yes and no may have been influenced by the measurer's expected outcome."


Last edited by Martijn (admin) on Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Martijn (admin) Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:22 pm


Beyond Brill's study:

Shocked ... I just took a look at one of the schizophrenia cases that I present in my article about schizophrena (see below); not 100% confident, but I think I have spotted a WHORL on the proximal phalange of the little finger...!???

(Not sure, but I do not recall that I have ever seen a whorl in that location... at least not in a human hand!!!)


V - Can Mental Illness be Diagnosed from the Palm?I - Page 2 Schizophrenia-case-1
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Post  Lynn Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:32 pm

Martijn (admin) wrote:
Beyond Brill's study:

Shocked ... I just took a look at one of the schizophrenia cases that I present in my article about schizophrena (see below); not 100% confident, but I think I have spotted a WHORL on the proximal phalange of the little finger...!???

(Not sure, but I do not recall that I have ever seen a whorl in that location... at least not in a human hand!!!)

WOW! yeah it looks like a whorl. I don't recall ever before seeing a whorl on any phalanx except distal!
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