Monday, 1 September 2014

Inappropriate Affect

Inappropriate Affect, or Involuntary Emotional Expression Disorder, IEED, is uncontrolled or involuntary laughter or crying. It can be a distressing and embarrassing symptom because once it starts it’s very hard to stop. It’s related to lesions in the cortex responsible for emotional control aspects. The person exhibits sudden and exaggerated expressions of emotion, laughing or crying, that may not be demonstrative of their mood at the time.

When I first visited the MS Clinic in Kingston the neurologist asked me if I’d experienced any episodes of this kind, and I had to admit I never had, but that’s changed.

I was shopping with my daughter prior to my move last summer. I had been under a lot of stress, physical and emotional, getting ready for the move. I bent over to look at something on a lower shelf and…well…I farted. It was a sudden thing and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I’m not normally into fart humour, but I laughed, out of embarrassment, but thankfully we were alone and no one else heard.

But once I started to laugh, I couldn’t stop. I felt totally out of control, like a monster had taken over my body. The public release of body gas had only slightly embarrassed my daughter, (different generations, and different ideas of what’s appropriate) but this uncontrolled laughter had her glancing all around, making sure no one could see my inexcusable behaviour.

I could hear her telling me to stop, but there was no way I could. I had no control over it and had to wait until it stopped on its own. How do you explain something like that? People think they know the varied symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis but in reality, people know squat. There are so many irritating and annoying things that we have to put up with on a daily basis. It’s not worth discussing all of them because by the time you explain, its over and done, until the next time.

I’m my father’s daughter and I hate being embarrassed in public, so this event was distressing. Luckily for me it has never happened again.

I’ve never had the crying spell, not one that would be IEED, but I do have the fragile emotional response that can have me crying at a sad movie, commercial or photo. But that’s another story.

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