McGill News reviews the new book Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness, and discusses its themes with co-author McGill Canada Research Chair in Philosophy and Psychiatry Ian Gold. The book, reports McGill News, explores how expanding public surveillance may be reinforcing or even creating new forms of paranoic disorders about being watched and tracked. “We live in a culture with cameras in public places, where governments sometimes spy on their citizens, and someone could reveal your secrets on Facebook,” Gold tells McGill News. “People who are predisposed to certain kinds of mental illness are very sensitive to fears of being watched and manipulated by others. So our culture could be pushing these people over the edge.” (more…)
Researchers from Durham University’s Hearing the Voice project are attending the Edinburgh International Book Festival through August as part of a study, asking both readers and writers what their experiences are and hosting discussions and workshops about hearing voices, according to The Guardian. The project’s director, Charles Fernyhough, told the Guardian that, “It is usually considered a troubling symptom of a severe mental illness but is more and more being recognised as something that happens to a lot of people and there are a lot of different contexts.” (more…)
Recent years have seen an influx of numerous studies providing an undeniable link between childhood/ chronic trauma and psychotic states. Although many researchers (i.e., Richard Bentall, Anthony Morrison, John Read) have been publishing and speaking at events around the world discussing the implications of this link, they are still largely ignored by mainstream practitioners, researchers, and even those with lived experience. While this may be partially due to an understandable (but not necessarily defensible) tendency to deny the existence of trauma, in general, there are also certainly many political, ideological, and financial reasons for this as well. Full Article →
People diagnosed with schizophrenia are twice as likely to have serious Vitamin D deficiencies, according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Nutrition scientists from Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran conducted a meta-analysis of 19 studies that had measured serum Vitamin D levels in 2,804 people. “The average difference in vitamin D levels between schizophrenic patients and control participants was -5.91 ng/ml,” summarized an Endocrine Society press release in ScienceDaily. “People with vitamin D deficiency were 2.16 times more likely to have schizophrenia than those with sufficient vitamin D in their bloodstreams. In addition, 65 percent of the participants who had schizophrenia also were vitamin D deficient.” Discuss →
Researchers from the University of Bonn and King’s College London were “amazed” at the range of experiences associated with schizophrenia that were induced in ordinary people after just twenty-four hours of deliberately-induced sleep deprivation. “It was clear to us that a sleepless night leads to impairment in the ability to concentrate,” said University of Bonn psychologist Dr. Ulrich Ettinger in a press release. “But we were surprised at how pronounced and how wide the spectrum of schizophrenia-like symptoms was.” In the study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, many participants reported heightened sensitivity to light, an altered sense of time, and experiencing unusual “mental leaps.” Many also began believing they could read others’ thoughts. Discuss →
As a trauma survivor growing up in various adolescent mental health systems, I never learned any useful self-care tools or practices. I was taught that my current coping skills (self-injury, suicidal behavior, illicit drug use) were unacceptable, but not given any ideas as to what to replace them with. No one seemed to want to know much about the early childhood traumas that were driving these behaviors. Instead, I collected an assortment of diagnoses. I was told that I would be forever dependent on mediated relationships with professionals, and an ever-changing combination of pills. The message was that my troubles were chemical in nature and largely beyond my control. Full Article →
My mother was once a bright, creative, beautiful young woman, a promising artist and a poet, who was captivated by the hippie movement. She was a creative bohemian artist, defying the conventions of our middle-class Jewish Midwestern family, which had carried a tradition of holding emotions inside and acting stoic. One day, soon after my grandparents’ divorce, she left. She hitched a ride to California, and from that point on, was never the same. The police picked her up on a park bench in Arizona, and she was committed for the first time at age 18. She rotated in and out of mental hospitals, the streets, and jail until her death. Full Article →
When Doug Turkington, a UK psychiatrist, first announced to his colleagues that he wanted to help people with psychotic experiences by talking to them, he was told by some that this would just make them worse, and by others that this would be a risk to his own mental health, and would probably cause him to become psychotic! Fortunately, he didn’t believe either group, and in the following decades he went on to be a leading researcher and educator about talking to people within the method called CBT for psychosis. Full Article →
KMSP News has aired a report of yet another mentally ill man pressured to enroll in a study of an unapproved antipsychotic drug, with near-disastrous results. His story bears a striking resemblance to the case of Dan Markingson, who committed suicide in a University of Minnesota study in 2004.
Research from Harvard finds that prenatal and family environment disruptions are elevated in families of people with schizophrenia diagnoses, supporting the authors’ (including noted researcher Ming Tsuang) proposed theory that “biological and social environmental influences across critical developmental periods points to key issues relevant for enhanced identification of psychosis susceptibility, facilitation of more precise models of illness risk, and development of novel prevention strategies.” Discuss →
As we develop critical awareness about the mental health “treatments” that don’t work and that often make things much worse, the question inevitably comes up, what can those who want to be helpful be doing instead? I believe that one key to successful change is going to be making effective training in alternatives widely available, so that those working in the field who hear our protests and criticisms with an open mind will be able to get support in then transitioning to doing things differently. Full Article →
According to a report prepared by Colorado University and released to the Denver Post, half of the children on government insurance in Colorado who are prescribed antipsychotics do not have a diagnosed psychotic illness listed on their Medicaid claims. “Few studies have examined side effects on children, and that the drugs have been linked to weight gain, diabetes and growth of breasts in boys,” the article states. “Foster parents and therapists say heavily medicated children are detached from reality — as though ‘walking in a cloud.’ They also contend that the use of the drugs has been fueled by pharmaceutical firms pursuing big profits with the help of willing doctors.”
In England, childhood sexual abuse (CSA) has become big news. The increasing understanding of the level of childhood sexual abuse and how this produces mental anguish has of course reached the psychosis arena, and encouraged academic study. Whilst the majority of psychiatrists continue to privilege a biological explanation of psychosis, more and more workers recognise abuse as at least a trigger if not a cause of psychosis. It’s important to develop thinking points for teams struggling with, or more generally avoiding, the CSA/psychosis link. Full Article →
Research involving 184 people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective diagnoses, and 447 people without diagnoses, finds strong positive correlations between childhood maltreatment and self-reported psychotic symptoms regardless of diagnostic status. “Although patients scored significantly higher than controls on both history of childhood maltreatment and self-reported symptoms, the strength of the relationship did not differ between groups. These data provide strong support for etiological continuity between subclinical psychotic symptoms and psychotic disorders,” the study, published yesterday by Schizophrenia Research, concludes. Discuss →
As I walked alone up the stairs to the Rayburn House Office Building this morning to attend the hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on H.R. 3717 – the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act – I thought about how I wasn’t truly alone. In spirit with me were all the people who had experienced scary, coercive, and dehumanizing interventions in the name of help. In spirit with me was every mental health provider who went into the field hoping to really make a difference in their communities, but became cynical and discouraged in the face of so many broken systems and broken spirits. Full Article →
Hello from another fellow Virginian. First, I want to extend my deepest condolences for the horrific tragedy that befell your family last year, and for the loss of your precious son Gus. I think I know, at least in part, how agonizing it is when our loved ones cannot access helpful supports, and how it feels to watch in horror as they spiral downward into darkness and despair. We all agree that our mental health systems are broken. Those of us who have been down the hellish road of struggling with our mental health and have found recovery have developed a new vision that will take us forwards, not backwards. Please give us the opportunity to share that new vision with you. Full Article →
Martin Harrow’s study tracing the effects of antipsychotics on 139 schizophrenia (SZ) and mood-disordered patients over 20 years, just published in Psychological Medicine, finds that “At each follow-up assessment over the 20 years, a surprisingly high percentage of SZ treated with antipsychotics longitudinally had psychotic activity. More than 70% of SZ continuously prescribed antipsychotics experienced psychotic activity at four or more of six follow-up assessments over 20 years. Longitudinally, SZ not prescribed antipsychotics showed significantly less psychotic activity than those prescribed antipsychotics . . . the condition of the majority of SZ prescribed antipsychotics for multiple years would raise questions as to how many of them are truly in remission.”
Although psychotic experiences (PEs) and schizophrenia are thought to share similar etiological risk factors, PEs also co-exist with depression and, according to research from the U.K., are a weak predictor of genetic and environmental risk for schizophrenia. The data, published in Psychological Medicine, indicate that “disentangling aetiological pathways to PEs from those impacting upon co-morbid psychopathology might provide important insights into the aetiology of psychotic disorders.”
Research from Australia asks the question noted above, and answers “subtle, but diverse, structural brain alterations, altered electrophysiological functioning and sleep patterns, minor physical anomalies, neurological soft signs, and sensory alterations. There are markers of infection, inflammation or altered immunological parameters; and there is increased mortality from a range of causes. Risk for schizophrenia is increased with cannabis use, pregnancy and birth complications, prenatal exposure to Toxoplasma gondii, childhood central nervous system viral infections, childhood adversities, urbanicity and immigration (first and second generation), particularly in certain ethnic groups . . . We conclude that while our knowledge of schizophrenia is very substantial, our understanding of it remains limited.”
Subsidiaries of Johnson & Johnson have agreed to pay $5.9 million to settle Montana’s lawsuit over the company’s fraudulent marketing of Risperdal. According to the lawsuit, J&J and its subsidiaries knew that the drug could cause weight gain, diabetes, and vascular complications, but hid the risks. After approval by the FDA for adult schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, the companies promoted the drug for various conditions in both adults and children.
Children who reported experiencing frequent nightmares between 2.5 and 9 years of age were significantly more likely to report psychotic experiences at age 12, regardless of sex, family adversity, emotional or behavioral problems, IQ or potential neurological problems, according to research published in the journal Sleep.
Furthering findings that social adversity and urbanicity increase the risk of psychosis, research in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry finds that moving schools, family adversity, and involvement with bullying are linked to a significantly greater risk of psychotic-like experiences in early adolescence. The authors recommend awareness of school changes, helping mobile students establish themselves in new school environments in order to reduce peer difficulties, and routine enquiry regarding bullying experiences in order to reduce psychotic-like experiences in youth.