“Symptom” Remission Unrelated to Social or Functional Recovery


Although patients who meet Anreasen’s 2005 symptom remission criteria do in fact have, according to this study from the Netherlands, fewer symptoms; this remission is not related to social or functional recovery. The authors suggest that “that the current focus on symptomatic remission may reflect an overly restricted goal.” The study was published in the September issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Abstract → Oorschot, M., Lataster, T., et al; Symptomatic Remission in Psychosis and Real-Life Functioning. British Journal of Psychiatry. 2012, 201(3) 215-220

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/201/3/215.abstract

    “The study provides an ecological validation for the symptomatic remission criteria, showing that patients who met the criteria reported fewer positive symptoms, better mood states and partial recovery of reward experience compared with those not in remission. However, remission status was not related to functional recovery, suggesting that the current focus on symptomatic remission may reflect an overly restricted goal.”

    “However, the patient groups did not differ on time spent in social company and doing nothing, and both the remission and non-remission groups had lower scores on functional outcome measures compared with the control group.”

    It has been my observation, and should be obvious to any casual observer, that taken as a group, individuals who have been subjected to neuroleptic drugs will not function in society (whatever that means) at the same level as a group of controls who have never ingested such substances. It is important to note that neuroleptic drugs are never administered long term in double-blind studies to “normal” controls, because that would be unethical. For those to whom they are prescribed, neuroleptic drugs always come with lots of other “baggage”, like a dire diagnosis and prognosis, hospitalizations, curtailment of liberties and other very real forms of abuse, unpleasant and possibly permanent side effects, brain and physical damage, etc. The playing field for those who have taken any significant amount of neuroleptic drugs is not and will never be level.

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