Two research reports in Nature have suggested links between smoking and impacts on brain thickness and plasticity, while a commentary in The Lancet Psychiatry discussed what the apparent strong links between smoking and schizophrenia may mean. More →
In World Psychiatry, two Canadian psychiatrists argue that the body of scientific evidence about schizophrenia shows that it is not a progressive illness and therefore we should have much higher expectations of full recoveries than we do. More →
There are no proven treatments of any kind for children or adolescents experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized comparison trials published in PLOS One. More →
The journal Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry hosts a debate between Peter Kinderman, one of the co-authors of the British Psychological Society's recent Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia report, and two authors whose meta-analysis of cognitive behavioral therapy was cited in that report. More →
People who smoke high-potency marijuana, especially if they do so daily, are at a three to five times greater risk of experiencing hospitalization for psychosis than people who smoke low-potency marijuana or no marijuana at all, according to research in The Lancet Psychiatry. More →
Robert Whitaker extended one of his core arguments from Anatomy of an Epidemic in a blog post last week. His argument revolves around the claim that psychiatric drugs are the principal cause of increasing psychiatric disability, as measured by U.S. social security disability claims. But does this really explain the rise in recipients of these SSI & SSDI benefits?
The Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society published a paper titled Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia. The central theme of the paper is that the condition known as psychosis is better understood as a response to adverse life events rather than as a symptom of neurological pathology. The paper was wide-ranging and insightful and, predictably, drew support from most of us on this side of the issue and criticism from psychiatry. Section 12 of the paper is headed “Medication” and under the subheading “Key Points” you’ll find this quote: “[Antipsychotic] drugs appear to have a general rather than a specific effect: there is little evidence that they are correcting an underlying biochemical abnormality.”
In The Lancet Psychiatry, psychiatrist Jose Andres Saez Fonseca disposes with the language of "the diagnostic manuals," and intimately describes two troubled people he once knew, and the very different inner worlds each of them lived within. He then laments that "schizophrenia" seems to be a poor and misleading label for either of these people's experiences, let alone for both of them. More →
First generation antipsychotics seem to cause general brain volume loss, while second generation antipsychotics seem to both increase and decrease the thickness of different parts of the brain, according to a study led by University of Melbourne researchers published in Psychological Medicine. And the effects on the brain, they found, are noticeable within a matter of months of beginning to take the medications. More →
So here we go again; another meeting with another young person who describes how he is in an acute crisis – you may call it – and is diagnosed and prescribed neuroleptics. He is told by the doctor that he suffers from a life-long illness and he will from now on be dependent on his “medication.” As long as people are met this way I see no alternative than showing that there are alternatives. If that means being “antipsychiatry,” then I am more than happy to define myself and our work in that way.
In a 1992 essay, British psychiatric genetic researcher Michael Owen wondered whether schizophrenia molecular genetic research would become the “graveyard of molecular geneticists.”1 Owen predicted that if major schizophrenia genes existed, they would be found within five years of that date. He was optimistic, believing that “talk of graveyards is premature.”2 Owen now believes that genes for schizophrenia and other disorders have been found, and was subsequently knighted for his work. Despite massively improved technology, however, decades of molecular genetic gene finding attempts have failed to provide consistently replicated evidence of specific genes that play a role in causing the major psychiatric disorders.
In the autumn of 1996, my son was seventeen when he told me one day on the way home from school: “I don’t know what’s happening, I can’t find my old self again.” He’d had a seemingly marvelous summer staying with family in Mexico, fishing and learning to surf. He’d achieved nearly a full scholarship for his junior year at a Boston private school. However, one teacher had observed that, in class, he “sometimes seems to be out of touch and unable to focus his mind.”
In Schizophrenia Bulletin, an Australian and a French researcher argue that the Hearing Voices Movement and similar groups are often misleading the public and researchers with their focus on voice hallucinations to the exclusion of the broader category of "auditory hallucinations" -- the latter of which can often be simply noises. "Voices are a preferred term [by the Hearing Voices Movement], as it makes a connection to a meaningful human experience rather than 'an arbitrary content induced by disease,'" states the article. More →
"Many patients with first-episode psychosis receive medications that do not comply with recommended guidelines for first-episode treatment," states a National Institute of Mental Health press release about a new NIMH study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. The study found that about 40% of patients who'd been diagnosed with having psychotic experiences for the first time in their lives were being too heavily medicated right away. More →
People "who are prone to psychosis" in its most "extreme" forms, such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thought, have been found to also show especially elevated levels of creativity, writes a team of Austrian researchers in Frontiers in Psychology. However, in a review of the literature on this topic, they conclude that there is at least one key difference between those people who tend to only struggle with their psychotic experiences and those who manage to succeed in the arts. More →
Psychodynamic art therapy shows promise in helping in-patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to a study by German psychiatric researchers in PLOS One. More →
Neuroscientists have been able to consistently recreate in people the feeling of another person or ghostly entity hovering nearby, according to a study reported in Mediacom. After examining people with epilepsy who frequently have the experience, the researchers theorized there was a type of brain-perception "dissonance" at work. More →
"A long-standing enigma in psychiatry has been why no-one has been able to find someone who has both congenital blindness and a diagnosis of schizophrenia," writes Mind Hacks. And a new study into the phenomenon published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience "raises more questions than it answers." More →
We should focus more on reducing or preventing specific environmental and lifestyle risk factors for schizophrenia, because genetic risk factors have no predictive capability whatsoever, according to a study in The Lancet Psychiatry. More →
Robert Heinssen and Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health argue in Schizophrenia Bulletin that the balance of evidence does not support early intervention in psychosis. More →
Data from a series of large, national longitudinal surveys show that symptoms of most mental illnesses in Canadian youth have in fact been stable or declining since 1994, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. So why does the opposite seem to be occurring, asked the authors. More →
NPR Shots discusses a new study examining whether people struggling with schizophrenia sensory overloads can train their own brains to more effectively deal with the experiences. More →
Nearly three-quarters of people who identify as experiencing psychosis eat less than four servings of fruit and vegetables per day, according to research published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. More →
People who are actively having schizophrenia experiences have significantly lowered Vitamin D levels compared to people "in remission," according to research in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. More →
NPR Shots discusses the plethora of new programs for early intervention for psychosis, with a focus on Ventura Early Intervention Prevention Services, operated by Alameda-based Telecare Corp. "VIPS is one of a handful of programs that have sprung up in California in recent years, based on a model developed in Maine by psychiatrist Dr. Bill McFarlane," reports NPR. More →
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