Thinking Differently About Schizophrenia? NOT!

Isn't this pathetic? There was an article in the NY Times this morning, the title of which - "Daring to Think Differently About Schizophrenia" - got me momentarily excited. Until it turned out to be just another piece of crap about how yet another new drug might be the solution. Ugh! The solution to what? Nature gone bad again? Think about it. That's basically where the Western medical-model approach to all illnesses, including psychiatric illnesses, comes from - the notion that nature randomly fucks up and wantonly, haphazardly attacks us. How wonderfully free from responsibility that leaves us human beings, right? Free to not look at the ways in which we drive our immune systems into the ground or the ways in which we drive ourselves and our children crazy.
"It's not us, it's nature!"
"Hey, Doc, you got a drug for that, right?"
In my early days of clinical training as a psychotherapist, there were actually thought to be reasons rooted in the experiences of a young child's life that could lead to schizophrenia. Imagine that?! There was even a name for a parent who could cause the illness to develop in a child - it's a whopper: the "schizophrenegenic mother." Whew! She was thought to be an emotionally detached, excessively involved and controlling, conflict-inducing parent, who placed her very young child in no-win scenarios called "double-binds." Double binds were manifestation of the parent's ambivalence, for example, about intimacy and control, at once wanting to instill fear and "respect" in the child, but also wanting to be revered and loved by the child simultaneously. The child was then forced to "split" itself internally (which is where the term schizophrenia comes from) in order to deal with this untenable demand from outer reality.
Well, I'm sure you can imagine how utterly politically incorrect that became in the late 1970s, can't you? Feminists, parents and even patients decried the purported hostility behind a "theory" that holds mothers and parents responsible for the mental illness of their children. I was actually a skeptic at the time, too, until I actually started doing some unbiased research and work with schizophrenics and their families, including in psychiatric hospitals and in their homes. Well, guess what? What I found was a plethora of detached, controlling, over-involved parents desperately needing to be loved and feared by their children. And guess what else? Therapy helped! Intensive psychotherapy that included "reparenting," a notion now thought of as quaint by the psychiatric profession, actually helped. But here was the glitch - it was a lot of work for the therapists and the families, and nobody wanted to do it. Interestingly enough, however, in a landmark study at the time, it was found that graduate students actually had a better success rate of curing schizophrenics than seasoned (and jaded) psychiatrists. Why? Because the grad students were more optimistic and enthusiastic in their approach to their difficult patients and could really roll up their sleeves, put in the time, and get into the schizophrenic's world. And those same grad students, me included, didn't mind making home visits to observe and work with the families.
Well, Reagonomics and the above-mentioned political correctness movements ended all that potential. And like a perfect storm, the defunding of long-term psychiatric care coupled with the parents-are-not-to-blame lobbying created an opening for the nefarious pharmacetical industry, ever-ready to provide the illusive AND expensive magic pill. This is a quote from the Times article today:
"Driving the industry’s interest [in schizophrenia] is the huge market for drugs for brain and psychiatric diseases. Worldwide sales total almost $50 billion annually, even though existing medicines have moderate efficacy and have side effects that range from reduced libido to diabetes."

Just read that paragraph again. Take a deep breath and read that short paragraph again.
Thinking differently about schizophrenia? I must've missed it.


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