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Schizophrenia Message Board

Schizophrenia Board Index

Dear Mike

You are correct that this community is shared by members who have a loved one or have schizophrenia themselves and that insulting people is not the best form of communication. I apologize for insulting you. I have just happened upon this community and thought I would have a read and see how things were under the topic of schizophrenia in this forum. When I read your posts I was depressed. I became despondent about the worldview of schizophrenia and what I have normally done in the past is walk away feeling like the battle for the best of treatment and outcomes will never be won with this illness. I would just lie down and accept that the ant-psychiatry views will continue to propagate stigma and prevent public education about schizophrenia forever.

Then I became furious and thought to myself, NO MORE, am I going to passively let incorrect information put my sonís life and otherís at risk. Iím going to speak up and say something. The anti-psychiatry movement has been dominating the health of those with schizophrenia far too long and the dam pendulum needs to swing back to the middle where it belongs! It is a direct result of ant-psychiatry thought that the laws where I live allowed my extremely ill son to wonder the streets putting his life and health at severe risk. In no other medical condition do we allow such mass suffering and idly stand by and watch it happen before our eyes.

Until you are a parent of a very ill child with schizophrenia who is in the situation of being homeless and psychotic, can you fully appreciate the suffering. My familiesí suffering will not be in vain! You do not see those with dementia or mental retardation left on the street until they decide to get help! Anti-psychiatry touches the very core of my suffering.

My background is in Early Childhood Education in which I spent my career working with people with severe developmental disorders of all ages. My ex-husband and I spent time and effort with psychologists trying to work out his problems that became worse over the years leading to unemployment issues. After our divorce and our son developing schizophrenia, my ex husband was diagnosed with bipolar. I can say from our family experience that undiagnosed and untreated bipolar gets worse with time. He is lucky to now be in treatment himself but it is a bit late and the result is a disability pension for him as well. I currently work full-time and Iím also a student. I can relate to the movie Lorenzoís Oil, probably on the same level as you and your wife.

I can also relate to your frustration and sheer lack of confidence with the mental health system as it stands. I have had the same feelings and experiences and felt that if we just did not become apart of the system then things would be better. The difference being that the ant-psychiatry movement causes my familiesí suffering where it seems to do the opposite for your family.
We have experienced less than competent psychiatrists but like all areas of occupations there are poor, mediocre and good. Managing the system is a skill in itself. I have had feelings and thoughts of anti-psychiatry myself but they are on a different path than yours. I view doctor Torreyís book, Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Consumers and Providers, as the bible on schizophrenia, as do many family members. Dr. Torrey is a psychiatrist with a sister with schizophrenia. He also has written many books, which look at how and why psychiatry has failed many people. I personally enjoy a book titled, Madness on the Couch, Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis, by Edward Dolnick.

I could find articles for the argument for the brain disease model for schizophrenia Mike but I really donít have the energy right now. Search fMRI and MRI studies. It really is just semantics. Disease is defined in Websterís Universal College Dictionary as; a disordered or abnormal condition of an organ or other part of an organism resulting from the effect of a genetic or development errors, infection, nutritional deficiency, toxicity or unfavorable environmental factors. Maybe the word disorder sits better with you. It is defined as "a disturbance in physical or mental health." One sociologist who looks at our beliefs and the issue of terminology is David Karp in his book 'The Burden of Sympathy: How Families Cope with Mental Illness."

I recall first being exposed to the words Ēmental illnessĒ and my son. It used to send shivers through. Why? It all stems back to stigma. Mental illness is something that is caused by poor parenting or the personís own volition. It is something to be ashamed of. Now I certainly see it differently and after 7 years of my son being ill (he is now 25), I no longer get chills from the words mental illness. I have come to the conclusion that perpetuating stigma is caused by our refusal to use the words without shame. Lets not change the word schizophrenia. Letís talk about it openly like we would talk about heart disease, Alzheimerís or cancer. It is a brain illness, biological disorder or disease and it is most certainly not caused by psychological trauma.

Severe psychological trauma or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) does have symptoms similar to schizophrenia but the hallucinations are flashbacks of people and events of the trauma. Other psychological trauma could certainly exacerbate or possibly trigger a predisposition for schizophrenia. Trauma in those who have a mental illness (child abuse, spouse abuse etc) should also be treated along with the mental illness.

There is a q22 chromosome deletion that is specific to one form of schizophrenia. A google search will bring this up. Other genes are also being implicated but as one research psychiatrist noted (Zipursky) we are probably dealing with 10-20 genes that could combine in many ways for a person to present with schizophrenia.

There are a number of theories on the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. I prefer the developmental theory and believe that it will be our answer for the cure. As in autism, there is no definitive cause yet but autism has lost the stigma and blame that schizophrenia still carries. The miracle of drugs for schizophrenia is that my son was as ill as any person with Alzheimerís or autism and I now have him back from that state so that we can have conversations. He laughs and tells jokes (no more flat effect). He is living life rather than just living. I hope the same miracle will soon be there for those with other brain illnesses.

The book that gave me the greatest comfort at the beginning of my son's illness was "When Someone You Love Has a Mental Illness" by Rebecca Woolis.

I wish you and your family all the best Mike.

Love and hugs

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