NUI Galway Seeking Participants for New Psychology Study

Monday, 26 July 2021

NUI Galway Seeking Participants for New Psychology Study

Researchers are investigating whether psychological factors can contribute to medically unexplained physical symptoms and a sense of disconnection

NUI Galway’s School of Psychology is seeking participants for a new study to investigate psychological factors that could contribute to medically unexplained physical symptoms and a sense of being disconnected from the environment.

Laura McHugh, Psychologist in Clinical Training, and Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Doctorate Programme in Clinical Psychology at NUI Galway, are seeking adults who may experience: a sense of detachment from their body or the world around them; changes in senses such as vision, hearing, taste or smell; unexplained pain or numbness; or feelings of unreality.

These recurring symptoms that have no medical explanation occur commonly in adults and have been found to be higher during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly amongst frontline healthcare staff. These symptoms can be burdensome, impacting social and occupational functioning as well as emotional wellbeing.

The researchers plan to investigate the impact of psychological factors such as emotional awareness, style of relating to others and mood, as well as the role of childhood experiences in medically unexplained physical symptoms and feelings of detachment from the world around us.

Dr Jonathan Egan, NUI Galway, said: “The more integrated we feel in our emotions, thoughts, body and actions, the higher a sense of self we experience. During Covid-19, our external environment went into shut-down and it was a non-supportive place to grow and develop. This meant we could not access activities which gave us a sense of shared experience and we all lost an aspect to ourselves, our glimmer of vitality was extinguished.  

“For many, we also lost connection with others, we lost that sense of closeness; akin to a person moving country to an alien environment where there is no support available. In this case a person’s fear system may become activated and thinking becomes safety/danger oriented, with creativity, play and our sense of a hopeful future being jettisoned out with the bath water.”

Dr Egan continued: “We then become a smaller and less integrated version of ourselves, contracted, de-conditioned, less open. This lowers our mood and we lose that sense of connection with ourselves and others. Many then focus inwards on their bodies for signs and symptoms of danger and ill health, as well as externally, people withdraw from others.  Our energy and vitality then plummets to the point of exhaustion and numbness at an emotional level, and our minds’ previous clarity becomes a constant fog with little memory of the beautiful vista which we once had. There no longer seems to be a point.”

If you are over 18 years old and would like to take part in the study, please visit https://bit.ly/3evzSdi for more information and complete the anonymous online survey.

-Ends-

Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
« Back


Featured Stories