JBRF Leads Radical Paradigm Shift in Mental Health

When JBRF researchers discovered Fear of Harm back in the early 2000s what they unearthed wasn't just a run-of-the-mill new disorder. They found something that hasn't been associated with any other mental illness in the history of psychiatry and psychology: a biomarker, which is a biological indicator of the presence of an illness.

Traditional Approaches


When the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was redesigned for its 3rd edition release in 1980 its authors laid out a clear paradigm which dictated how mental disorders were to be understood. The authors set out to create “... an approach that attempted to be neutral with respect to the causes of mental disorders”.*

But without understanding cause, we can't truly provide treatment that can halt a disorder. Under that school of thought, treatment can only address symptoms not causes. The discovery of Fear of Harm changes this paradigm.

A Shift From "No Cause" to Biomarker

Fear of Harm defies those traditional notions of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment precisely because it has a known biological marker. Simply put, Fear of Harm is a disorder that has a cause; it is not “cause neutral”.  This represents a paradigm shift that changes how we conceptualize Fear of Harm's origins as well as how it can and should be treated. Knowledge of Fear of Harm's biomarker allows us to treat the disorder at its biological and causal roots.


Fear of Harm's biomarker is a thermoregulatory disorder that underlies and triggers the cascade of other symptoms. It causes the brain of the Fear of Harm patient to be unable to regulate body temperature. When the body inevitably starts to overheat we see involuntary behavioral symptoms such as elevated levels of fear & hypervigilance, reactive & defensive aggression, the misperception of threat levels in the environment, and non-age appropriate tantrums & oppositional behaviors. The temperature dysregulation also triggers sleep disruptions including difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, experiencing horrific nightmares, and sleepwalking or talking. 


But underlying these behavioral symptoms is a biological cause. When the temperature dysregulation is treated the behavioral symptoms begin to dissipate.

Fear of Harm is revolutionary, and representative of a paradigm shift precisely because it can be diagnosed through the presence or absence of its biomarker, just as we would in other medical conditions. Fear of Harm is a psychiatric diagnosis that follows this medical model, and its presence can be proven, but more important for scientific purposes, it can be disproven when the biomarker is not present. 


JBRF's research into Fear of Harm and its biological underpinnings is opening doors to better understanding, better treatment, and better outcomes for those living with Fear of Harm.


If you'd like to learn more about our groundbreaking research, click the link below to go to our YouTube page. You'll be able to view talks from our research director who is the leading authority on Fear of Harm, psychiatrist Dr. Demitri Papolos, as well as from our board chair, world renowned neuropsychologist Dr. Steven Mattis.


JBRF supports children and families suffering from bipolar disorder and

Fear of Harm through research, education, and outreach.

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