The neuropsychiatrist and the neuropsychologist

I’m still not quite sure what neuropsychiatrists and neuropsychologists are, or how they differ from  other psychiatrists and psychologists, but I do know that it’s important to get the right one.

In the hospital, after all the negative tests, they sent a neuropsychiatrist to assess my cognitive functioning. It was quite interesting. I’m well above average in ‘IQ’, so he thought I was functioning well, while I was horrified at what I couldn’t do.

I also realized, even through my fog, that it was complex tasks that were the problem.  If I could take an initiative and choose to do something (e.g. speak), I could do it.  If he asked me a question, it took me time to process the question and then to choose to answer it.  e,g, I could say, ‘My name is Ida’. But if he asked, ‘What is your name?’ I could feel the effort and time delay in taking in the question, finding my name in my mind and then telling him it.

If he said, ‘Point to the window!’ I could do that.  If he said, ‘Point to the window and then to the door!’ it took me several seconds to do that – at first, I just froze, but then I found a strategy of repeating his command to myself, and then telling myself what to do, and then doing it.  it took time, but I could do it.  Maybe he’d have found a way of giving me more help if I hadn’t worked so hard on finding a way of doing his tests!

As it was, he decided that there was no systematic sign of an area of the brain that was damaged.  He saw me once  about a month after I was discharged, but that was just to tell me that he couldn’t do anything more to help me.  It was several months later that the local branch of Headway (the brain injury support group) recommended that the GP refer me to a neuropsychologist who was know to take ‘mild’ head injuries seriously.  And he was helpful!

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