Research by Andreasen et al. published in American Journal of Psychiatry in June of 2013 reported that the dosage of antipsychotic medication correlated with the reduction in the cortex volume; higher dosage was associated with greater reduction. In that same article, the authors suggested that, since they found brain shrinkage correlated with duration of relapse, curtailing or preventing the relapse would probably decrease damage. Their suggested mechanism for shortening the relapse process was to prescribe more drugs. The validity of Andreasen et al.’s advice rests on two assumptions: (1) psychotic symptoms are signals that a volume reducing process is occurring; (2) anti-dopaminergic drugs actually prevent the brain-volume-reducing process as opposed to merely masking downstream manifestations of this process. There is some support in the literature for the first assumption. However, there is reason to believe that while antipsychotic drugs can mask symptoms, they don’t touch the processes that cause the damage and may, in fact, exacerbate the damaging processes. Thus, using antipsychotic drugs to reduce symptoms of physiological damage is analogous to the fire department disconnecting the smoke detector but doing nothing to put out the fire.
Oxidative stress, that is too many free radicals with an unpaired electron, has been implicated in schizophrenia. Oxidative stress as well as the chemicals that rid the body of free radicals (e.g., uric acid and glutathione) can be measured in blood, in the cerebrospinal fluid, and in the brain. A number of investigators have found elevations in free radicals and lower levels of antioxidants in persons exhibiting psychosis who were not taking medications (Arvindakshan, et al., 2003; Khan et al., 2002; Li et al., 2011; Mahadik et al., 1998; Owe-Larsson, et al., 2011; Yao et al., 1998; Zhang et al., 2009). Furthermore, the level of oxidative stress in unmedicated persons with psychosis correlates with level of negative symptoms (Arvindakshan et al., 2003; Li, Zheng, Xiu 2011) and positive symptoms (Mahadik et al., 1998; Zhang et al., 2009). Moreover, alleles for genes involved in production of glutathione are associated with risk for psychosis (Carter, 2006). Free radicals can damage all kinds of molecules. Presumably, the free radicals are the proximal cause of cortex damage. The correlation between symptoms and increased levels of free radicals is consistent (although not definitive proof) that symptoms reflect an acute process of damage.
Getting from free radicals to psychosis: Animal research illuminates the link between the free radicals and the creation of symptoms. The free radicals impair the function of an enzyme that makes GABA and eventually kills the GABA interneurons (Sorce et al., 2010). In fact, alterations in chandelier cells, a type of GABAergic interneuron, have been identified in the brains of schizophrenics at autopsy (Lewis, 2011). The interneurons, when functioning properly, place a break on the release of glutamate and dopamine (Nakazawa et al., 2013, p. 8; Schwartz, Sachdeva, & Stahl, 2012; Sorce et al., 2010). The case for hallucinations being caused by excessive dopamine release in the Nucleus Accumbens is pretty strong (Nakazawa et al., 2013). Cocaine and amphetamines which increase levels of dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens reliably cause psychotic symptoms, as anyone who works in emergency rooms knows.
What the antipsychotic drugs do: Antipsychotic drugs displace dopamine from its receptor sites on the post-synaptic neuron. The signaling that dopamine would otherwise induce in the post-synaptic neuron does not occur. In the presence of the antipsychotic drug, the downstream effects of excessive dopamine, psychotic symptoms, are precluded. However, the damage to the cortex is not caused by the dopamine signaling; it is caused by free radical excess and in some theories inflammatory processes, which the antipsychotic drugs may fail to influence. The data on how antipsychotics influence oxidative stress is inconclusive and some have argued that the medications enhance oxidative stress (Ng et al., 2008; Mahadik, et al., 2006).
Caveat: Admittedly, much of this story is speculative. Schizophrenia is diagnosed on the basis of psychotic symptoms. There are probably multiple pathways to the same endpoint of too much dopamine signaling. Some pathways may be associated with brain volume reduction whereas others are not. Moreover, the story on interneurons is complex. GABA, generally known as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, may have differing effects on various cell subtypes. There are many types of GABA interneurons, although most theories identify basket cells and chandelier cells as relevant to schizophrenia (Chattopadhyaya & Di Cristo, 2012; Lewis, 2011). There are multiple pathways to disturbance of the interneurons, including low levels of stimulation of these neurons at their membrane NMDA receptors (Nakazawa et al. 2012). Moreover, interneurons play a role in both brain development and brain function. In the fetus, they help to set up the developing brain architecture. Obviously identifying proximal causes for various symptoms and possible brain volume reduction in unmedicated persons with schizophrenia will be difficult. I am also aware that Moncrieff has argued that brain volume reduction is not a component of the natural history of schizophrenia; so this also is controversial. However, if one assumes that the unmedicated trajectory of schizophrenia entails brain damage at least for some subtypes of schizophrenia, problems remain with Andreasen et al.’s recommendation. Proof is required that the antipsychotic drugs influence the mechanism for creating brain volume reduction.
Bottom Line: Before advising fellow physicians to increase the dosage of antipsychotic drugs to prevent brain volume reduction, it is important to show the following: first, demonstrate that symptoms, in fact, reflect the occurrence of a damaging process; second, demonstrate that any treatment intervention actually targets the damaging process itself and not just the downstream symptoms of this process. Hopefully, in future research, Andreasen et al. will measure free radicals to determine their correlation with symptoms of florid psychosis, brain shrinkage, and how antipsychotic drugs influence the free radicals. Before acting, it is important to “first do no harm”.
Arvindakshan, M., Sitasawad, S., Debsikdar, V., Ghate, M., Evans, D., Horrbin, D. F., Bennett, C., Ranjekar, P. K., & Mahadik, S. P. (2003). Essential polyunsaturated fatty acid and lipid peroxide levels in never-medicated and medicated schizophrenic patients. Biological Psychiatry, 53, 1, 56-64.
Carter, C. J. (2006). Schizophrenia susceptibility genes converge on interlinked pathways related to glutamateric transmission and long-term potentiation, oxidative stress, and oligodendrocyte viability. Schizophrenia Research, 86, 1-14.
Chattopadhyaya, B., & Di Cristo, G. (2012). GABAertic circuit dysfuntions in neurodevelopmental disorders. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 3, Aricle 51.
Do, K. Q., Trabesinger, A. H., Kirsten-Kruger, M., Lauer, C. J., Dydak, U., Hell, D., Holsboer, F., Boesiger, P., Cuenod, M. (2000). Schizophrenia: glutathione deficit in cerebrospinal fluid and prefrontal cortex in vivo. European Journal of Neuroscience, 12, 3721-3728.
Khan, M. M., Evans, D.R., Guanna, V., Scheffer, R. E., Parikh, V.V., & Mahadik, S. P. (2002). Reduced erythrocyte membrane essential fatty acids and increased lipid peroxides in schizophrenia at the never-medicated first-episode of psychosis and after years of treatment with anti-psychotics. Schizophrenia Research, 58 (1), 1-10.
Lewis, D. A. (2011). The chandelier neuron in schizophrenia. Developmental Neurobiology, 7 (1), 118-127.
Li, X.F., Zheng, Y. L., Xiu, M. H., Chen, D. C., Kosten, T. R., & Zhang, X. Y. (2011). Reduced plasma total antioxidant status in first-episode drug-naïve patients with schizophrenia. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 35 (4), 1064-1067.
Mahadik ,S. P., Mukherjee, S., & Scheffer, R.S., Correnti, E. E., Mahadik, J. S. (1998). Elevated plasma lipid peroxidase at the onset of nonaffective psychosis. Biological Psychiatry, 43, 674-570.
Mahadik, S. P., Pillai, A., Joshi, S., & Foster, A. (2006). Prevention of oxidative stress-mediated neuropathology and improved clinical outcome by adjunctive use of a combination of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in schizophrenia. International Review of Psychiatry, 18(2), 119-131.
Nakazawa, K., Zsiros, V., Jiang, Z., Nakao, K., Kolata, S., Zhang, S., & Belforte, J. E. (2012). GABAergic interneuron origin of schizophrenia pathophysiology. Neuropharmacology, 62 (3), 1574-1583.
Ng, F., Berk, M., Dean, O., & Bush, A. I. (2008). Oxidative stress in psychiatric disorders: evidence base and therapeutic implications. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 11, 851-876.
Owe-Larsson, B., Ekdahl, K., Edbom, T., Ösby, U., Karlsson, H., Lundberg, C., & Lundberg, M. (2011). Increased plasma levels of thioredoxin-1 in patients with first episode psychosis and long-term schizophrenia. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 35 (4), 1117-1121.
Schwartz, T. L., Sachdeva, S., Stahl, S. M. (2012). Glutamate neurocircuitry: theoretical underpinnings in schizophrenia. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 3 (November) article 195.
Sorce, S., Schiavone, S., Tucci, P. Colaianna, M., Jaquet, V., Cuomo, V., Dubois-Dauphin, M., Trabace, L., & Krause, K-H. (2010). The NADPH oxidase NOX2 controls glutamate release: a novel mechanism involved in psychosis-like ketamine responses. Journal of Neuroscience, 30(34), 11317-11325.
Yao, J. K., Reddy, R., & van Kamman, D. P. (1998). Reduced level of plasma antioxidant uric acid in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 80, 29-39.
Zhang, X. Y., Chen, D. C., Xiu, M. H., Wang, F., Qi, L. Y., Sun, H. Q., Chen, S., He, S. C., Wu, G. Y., Haile, C. N., Kosten, T. A., Lu, L., & Kosten, T. R. (2009). The novel oxidative stress marker thioredoxin is increased in first-episode schizophrenic patients. Schizophrenia Research, 113, 2-3, 151-157.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.
I don’t mean to be off-topic, but the more I read the nonsense that comes out of the field of psychiatry, the more I feel the need to send a message out – especially, to anyone who has a child in emotional distress or an adult considering seeing a psychiatrist for the first time:
These doctors and researchers have no idea how these drugs alter brain chemistry, and what kind of fallout may result from their use – especially their long-term use.
In short, run like hell!
Yes, psychiatry is both crazy and desperate. Psychiatry is about to get even worse. Ketamine (a street drug known to cause both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia) reliably does cause free radical production which disrupts the GABA producing enzymes and eventually kills the GABA releasing neurons. They are now experimenting with ketamine as the next wonder drug for major depression. I’ve heard neuroscientists characterizing this as turning a depressed brain into a schizophrenic brain.
There really is not a lot of difference between prescription psychiatric drugs and street drugs. –
Not all – cannabis has been useful in reducing extrapyramidal effects of ‘antipsychotics’ and some people have found it useful in actually managing voices [this is after diagnosis]
Cocaine and amphetamines which increase levels of dopamine in the Nucleus Accumbens reliably cause psychotic symptoms, as anyone who works in emergency rooms knows.
Illicit drug stimulants are ASSOCIATED, correlated with extreme states of excitement etc that get labeled ‘psychosis’. A causal chain from molecule in drug to behavior labeled ‘psychotic’ has not been established, hence the appeal to ‘obvious to pole who’ve worked in ER’, appeal to ‘obviousness’. People who feel extremely stimulated sometimes go on to feel grandiose. Your alleged complete biological explanation for these states of mind just isn’t a full explanation at all.
Your understanding the states of mind that get labeled ‘negative symptoms’ of ‘Schizophrenia’ and its relation to Ketamine is outrageously unsupported.
“too much dopamine signaling.”
If every post on this site even remotely approached the level of ridiculous biological speculation in this post I would not be here.
“Your understanding the states of mind that get labeled ‘negative symptoms’ of ‘Schizophrenia’ and its relation to Ketamine is outrageously unsupported.”
Yeah, when the ketamine blocks the NMDArs in high enough sub-anaesthetic doses, maybe it kind of prevents the sensory signals from eyes, ears, skin, etc from arriving to the mind or “reality creation loop”, so the mind is free create a new kind of reality that is not so much directed by input coming from sensory neurons and thus from the environment. If someone is given a very big dose of ketamine, he may become unresponsive looking at him, but he may experience things very intensively inside his mind. Much of currently documented negative symptoms of schizophrenia are related to neuroleptic type dopamine antagonism which is a totally different experience. Instead of experiencing an intense internal world, life is taken away from all things that make it good. Motivation is taken away, anhedonia, etc. They’re two totally different things, even though from outside it may seem that the persons are not responding in a similar way.
Actually, I personally would much prefer to take a low dose ofketamine over neuroleptics. When I was younger, I tried some other NDMA antagonist drugs similar to ketamine in high but sub-anaesthetic doses. Alcohol and nitrous oxide also work at least in part through NMDA antagonism. I also watched what other people in that “community” were doing. There seems to be some resemblance to some symptoms seen in some psychosis in NMDAr antagonist intoxication. They can also cause those symptoms more directly, amphetamine psychosis often requires more of a binge type use, so it seems there’s more complex processes going on than just dopamine activity in one part of the brain causing hallucinations. However, they also liked the effects and I don’t think they’re that crazy to ingest drug just to get the effects of current schizophrenic patients. They liked the experience and found it interesting.
In 60s there was a researcher called John Lilly who experimented with isolation tanks and chronic use of large doses of ketamine, and these also in combination. He developed some things which most people would consider quite wacky, such as a cosmic coincide center affecting the human development through series of coincidences. On other hand, he didn’t develop the high anxiety, amotivation, etc now seen in schizophrenia. Maybe in some forms of more paranoid psychosis there has been prolonged anxiety, fear, sleeplessness which then cause things such as “dysfunction” of HPA axis, increased or decreased dopamine production or dopamine receptor levels, similar stuff with glutamate or NMDA receptors, etc. Maybe in a way, some paranoid psychosis have this ketamine type dissociation effect combined with high anxiety, fear, lack of sleep. And the latter in a way can cause the NMDA and dopamine stuff. And they can be caused by kinds of trauma, etc, etc. And the dissociation effect can maybe create a feedback loops with these others things in brain, in society and in mind which just increase the problem. Etc.
Maybe one of my points is that to understand complex things such as brain function and how it relates to mind, society, madness, etc, we need to constantly jump from one level of explanation to another and see how they interrelate.
This is an interesting take on this study but I do not think Andreasen is advising treating with more neurolpetic. She suggests that “clinicians should strive to use the lowest dose possible.” I understand you are raising a different point – that the brain loss associated with relapse might not be ameliorated with antipsychotic drugs that she has demonstrated have their own impact on brain tissue loss.
I do think that the message about minimal dose is an important and an achievable one within the field at least for now. It would be an important harm reduction step to at least raise the appreciation that less may be more for so many people.
I continue to think that there is so much variability – as you point out – that it is hard to make one recommendation.
I share you concern – really shock and awe – about ketamine.
Thanks so much for the comment. I do think that schizophrenia is a terrible condition. The voices and delusions can be terrifying. I’m encouraged by the studies with N-acetyl-cysteine. In this months JAMA Psychiatry, there is an article on nitroprusside for reducing symptoms of shizophrenia. Perhaps these interventions are less toxic? I keep hoping.
Have you ever been diagnosed with “schizophrenia” and received “treatment?” Have you ever asked a “schizophrenic” who has recovered whether they had a “terrible condition” or was it the “treatment” they received (medical and social) which was the real horror, which put them in a “terrible condition?”
A “schizophrenic” is at least experiencing what fear does. Those who see it as a “terrible condition with voices and delusions which can be terrifying” seem to be numb, to be immune to what’s going on other than to be alarmed and call it terrible. In fact they seem to want “Schizophrenics” to think it’s all terrible to get good points for “empathy.” This kind of fear mongering about the disease doesn’t correlate with healing, I don’t think.
Actually experiencing fear will teach you a lot, when you learn how to let go of it, and see what kind of a deception in can cause in your thinking. The problem is that this undermines the basic fear based programming of human behavior in societies investing in a penal system, social heirarchy, social controls and norms, the whole works.
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I have to agree with Nijinksy. People who characterize schizophrenia as a terrible condition are immune to what is really going on. IMO it is fear mongering that grows out of taking a purely biochemical approach to the so called disease.
This was my understanding about what Nancy Andreasan was saying with her most recent research conclusions.
But I don’t trust her.
IMO, anyone who comes to the conclusion that neuroleptics shrink the brain; only later to conclude that small amounts help prevent brain shrinkage (by warding off relapse) is not worthy of trust.
IMO, she is either not very logical, tied to pharma money, or both. In any event, I stand by my warning statement to parents of children and those considering seeing a psychiatrist for the first time:
I couldn’t agree with you more, Duane. If I ever got depressed again, I’d just as soon consult an astrologer or a voodoo priest. Psychiatry takes a problem and turns it into a disaster. Then, of course, they have to treat the disaster with further psychiatry. Cretins!
I agree, it’s well known that ‘antipsychotics’ cause brain shrinkage therefore to suggest small amounts prevent this shrinkage makes no sense to me at all. I listened to a psych insisting that Clozapine prolongs life..smacks head on keyboard
Sandra, well, it depends a bit on what one means with “more”, but she does also suggest increasing “adherence” with injections, etc.
Actually, I thought that drugs that block dopamine receptors, in the end, INCREASE dopamine production, because the dopamine isn’t doing the job it otherwise would. And this is also how they got the statistics that dopamine hyperactivity has to do with schizophrenia, because when you drug people with dopamine receptor blocking “medications” in the end you get dopamine hyperactivity, because the brain tries to compensate for the dopamine that’s not allowed to work, and makes more.
This then would explain the following also: “A number of investigators have found elevations in free radicals and lower levels of antioxidants in persons exhibiting psychosis who were not taking medications (Arvindakshan, et al., 2003; Khan et al., 2002; Li et al., 2011; Mahadik et al., 1998; Owe-Larsson, et al., 2011; Yao et al., 1998; Zhang et al., 2009). Furthermore, the level of oxidative stress in unmedicated persons with psychosis correlates with level of negative symptoms (Arvindakshan et al., 2003; Li, Zheng, Xiu 2011) and positive symptoms (Mahadik et al., 1998; Zhang et al., 2009). ” because we aren’t talking about “unmedicated” people. We are talking about people who have been medicated, had their brain try to compensate for the blocking of dopamine, and then when they try to get off of medications which make them experience their thoughts as further and further away, and muted; they get dopamine hyperactivity, confusion, stress and then these free radicals. Which easily could come from the stress (both physical and emotional) rather than anything to do with “schizophrenia,” “psychosis,” etc..
Also, you’re grouping together “psychosis” or “psychotic symptoms” from cocaine use, and psychosis from true emotional trauma. Those are two very different things. And it’s been shown that people with psychosis from emotional trauma do the best when NOT medicated in any way, but receive support, and are put in an environment that’s not alarmed by responses they have, and they can let go of their fear rather than be further assaulted by the indoctrinated around them.
And it’s completely true that the whole connection with symptoms and their cause is obfuscated here. To add to that dopamine receptor blocking medications increase dopamine production, they may suppress expression of what the psychiatrist calls symptoms. Ad these are called symptoms for lack of insight into what a patients emotional experiences have been. When these “symptoms” are only magnified because of “treatment” this still makes no correlation with brain reduction and “schizophrenia” itself. It’s the increase in dopamine the dopamine receptor blocking drugs caused that correlates with “symptoms” and with further suppression of a person’s expression. And this expression has been shown to be allowed to heal when allowed in other settings not using these “medications.” This whole talk about brain reduction makes no sense. It’s trying to make out that the increase in symptoms caused by the lack of emotional help and the implimentation of medications, which caused increase in dopamine production (and has been used to pin on the “disease” rather than the medications) that this then is used to correlate with the brain reduction that statistically clearly correlates with the medications.
You would have to allow a person who is having “symptoms” to be given the help that has been shown to be more effective than medications, and then see whether this prevents brain reduction. That, they’re not interested in, to begin with. They’d have to try a different approach than the biological model they have yet to prove is actually biological. And so they talk about brain reduction correlating with one thing, when it clearly (and scientifically) correlates with the other, which is their unproven biological model, which promotes these “medications.”
In your attempt to postulate a theory that free radicals may be a causative factor in what gets labeled “schizophrenia” aren’t you at the same time upholding the mythical “chemical imbalance” theory.
In your fourth paragraph you state “What the antipsychotic drugs do: Antipsychotic drugs displace dopamine from its receptor sites on the post-synaptic neuron. The signaling that dopamine would otherwise induce in the post-synaptic neuron does not occur. In the presence of the antipsychotic drug, the downstream effects of excessive dopamine, psychotic symptoms, are precluded.”
And then again in your last paragraph you state “Bottom Line: Before advising fellow physicians to increase the dosage of antipsychotic drugs to prevent brain volume reduction, it is important to show the following: first, demonstrate that symptoms, in fact, reflect the occurrence of a damaging process; second, demonstrate that any treatment intervention actually targets the damaging process itself and not just the downstream symptoms of this process.”
The key parts of these quotes are: “…the downstream effects of excessive dopamine, psychotic symptoms…” and “…any treatment intervention actually targets the damaging process itself and not just the downstream symptoms of this process.”
These quotes seem to be promoting the theory that excessive dopamine causes psychosis. Where is the evidence for this theory? Bob Whitaker’s “Anatomy of an Epidemic” and other critics of Biological Psychiatry have focused a great of attention dispelling this myth.
And a final question would be: Do you accept the use of “brain disease” labels such as “schizophrenia” since you choose not to say “so-called” or place the label in quotes?
Thank you Richard. Someone needs to rescue us from this offensive warmed over dopamine hypothesis non-understanding.
As I understood it drugs [not distress] cause dopamine super-sensitivity, the ‘treatment’ causes a chemical imbalance rather than the person’s distress
The studies I cited were on people who had never been medicated but were psychotic. (I should have been clearer on this.) Their level of hallucinations correlated with indicators of oxidative stress. It is true that dopamine is broken down into free radicals as well (called quinones). It is also true that adding a dopamine receptor blocker (an antipsychotic) will cause more release of dopamine (at least initially). Thus, you’ll generate more free radical damage, at least in theory.
With regard to all they need is support, people who are acutely schizophrenic usually don’t pay any attention to you, however, supportive you are. They are too distracted by the internal stimuli. Often, they are very scared. When I worked on a receiving unit at the state hospital, one new admission (never had been medicated) kept hitting his head against the wall in an attempt to make the voice go away. I sat down with him and we played a board game, my attempt to distract him. He looked a little less frightened. Another guy was convinced that his brain was infected and worms were coming out of his nose. I don’t have a problem with something being horribly “gone awry” with regard to schizophrenia, although people are only guessing on what it could be. I would not make this case for depression and anxiety-which I regard as just part of being alive.
“I don’t have a problem with something being horribly “gone awry” with regard to schizophrenia, although people are only guessing on what it could be.”
I don’t really know what to say about such a comment, except that it turns cause and effect around. It’s basically the people who do not see something horribly awry that are the ones who help “schizophrenics”, and this is the treatment they get that effects the most cures, and recovery. In Soteria House, Inner Dialogue, Homes of Finland, and the kind of cure that the Quakers had. Also, simply leaving someone alone and not “medicating” them or reacting alarmed that something is wrong will effect the most cure. And understanding.
Further more, it’s only clear that when someone is in a psychotic break and in an environment where they weren’t understood, and then ends up in a medical setting, where they will get further treatment which doesn’t involve the understanding that evokes healing; they are going to be stressed out, and the more “psychotic” they are the more stressed out and least understood. What happens to someone that has had physical trauma, do they also have “free radicals” going on. with such focus on physical symptoms, you might say that they also are in danger of brain shrinkage, that there’s something awry going on, and need “treatment.”
People in a psychotic state might also have other signs that come from stress. The statement that you made: “With regard to all they need is support, people who are acutely schizophrenic usually don’t pay any attention to you, however, supportive you are.” That’s quite contradictory and perhaps only a statement on your experience, and perhaps inability to relate to them. The methods I’ve mentioned have shown to be different. And there are people who can talk someone out of a psychotic break. The two examples you site both clearly show signs of what society does to people, when it says there’s something wrong with your brain, when you show signs of emotional stress, confusion or “psychosis.” That’s why someone bangs his head on the wall or believes his brain is infected with worms.
All this going on and on looking for physical symptoms, saying something must be awry, against all the evidence that it’s exactly not investing in such which affords the best results in healing; one might call this psychotic as well. The difference is it’s all too fixated, too ingrained with accepted norms and accepted beliefs to be seen as having the flexibility which the thoughts called psychotic have, and which can allow a person to actually see how they’ve invested in fear. A person believing in accepted norms (no matter that a hundred years of intense research application and freedom to torture others with such “treatments” has only made things worse, turned up no answers, caused loss of freedom and created a corrupt economic flow for such treatments)… if they believe in such norms they AREN’T going to experience the stress that someone with more flexible “Crazy” ideas will, because it won’t cause the level of abandonment, ostracizing influences, feeling of being broken etc.
Einstein said that being crazy is trying the same thing over and over again and looking for a different result.
And I really don’t find it “sane” to experiment for hundreds of years on vulnerable scared people, and keep trying to look for something “awry” going on in order to excuse how society uses fear and alarm at things they don’t understand to try to maintain cohesiveness numbers.
Also it’s not just “initially” that dopamine blocking drugs cause more production of dopamine. The body tries to compensate. And so ever going off of these medications that correlate with high loss of life expectency and a host of other complications, causes the excess production to suddenly increase even more with the blocking taken away. And so a person can be flooded with all sorts of thoughts they may never have been allowed or helped to understand.
People who come out of a *coma* often say they were aware of the love and support that came from others, while they were in a coma.
Food for thought for any mental health worker.
I really wish we’d be gutsy enough to turn treatment of the “severely mentally ill” over to non-professionals. The pre-conceived notions and “treatments” are worse than the “illnesses”…
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I don’t have a problem with something being horribly “gone awry” with regard to schizophrenia, although people are only guessing on what it could be. I would not make this case for depression and anxiety-which I regard as just part of being alive.
You are just displaying you have already jumped to the conclusion that the brain is diseased, forget the fact you can’t prove it. You’re not making a case at all! You have a bias toward biological explanations for head wall banging, and labeling the lesser psychiatric labels just part of life. “which I regard as just part of being alive”…. so if an experience hasn’t been a part of your life, it is a brain disease then?
I agree, the blogger has *not* made any case whatsoever for the creation of her two *theoretically* separate categories of psychiatric labeling.
She speaks of,
“something being horribly “gone awry” with regard to schizophrenia, although people are only guessing on what it could be. I would not make this case for depression and anxiety-which I regard as just part of being alive.”
IMO, instead of making a case for creating that division, she does exactly what Psychiatry has been doing for the past hundred years (since the time that Eugen Bleuler coined the “schizophrenia” label); she explores reductionist biological hypotheses…
“When I worked on a receiving unit at the state hospital, one new admission (never had been medicated) kept hitting his head against the wall in an attempt to make the voice go away. I sat down with him and we played a board game, my attempt to distract him. He looked a little less frightened. Another guy was convinced that his brain was infected and worms were coming out of his nose.”
I think that maybe, by her saying the first guy had “never had been medicated,” she is making a case for the fact that psychiatric drugs couldn’t be to blame for his head-banging behavior. OK. Fine.
And, it’s great that she noticed he seemed a bit less frightened when she played a board game with him.
But, IMO, she is not describing herself as someone who can sufficiently ‘enter the world’ of that man’s mind — nor at all fathom the mind of the next man she describes.
I.e., in failing to establish full rapport with people who’ve been labeled with “schizophrenia,” she’s decided to jettison their life-histories, whilst developing, simultaneously, a sincere desire to ‘discover’ some holy-grail, ultimate, biological explanation for such people’s then *seemingly* unexplainable thoughts, emotions and behaviors; she’s utterly mystified their so-called “symptoms” — in order to forward her ultimately reductionist biological hypothesis.
Thank goodness she has attracted commenters who can see through this and reflect on it in reasonable ways…
Jonah I concur with your analysis. The inferential leap from head banging to brain disease is about the speed we have come to expect in this corner of MIA. Personally I’ve started to find it vulgar and crass when people attempt to show their ‘crazy anecdote’ chops. As in, he banged his head on the wall.
Elsewhere the author has said:
“With regard to all they need is support, people who are acutely schizophrenic usually don’t pay any attention to you, however, supportive you are. They are too distracted by the internal stimuli.”
I draw everybody’s attention, now and forever to the minimizing language deployed by all biological psychiatry explainers, who when faced with common sense or non biological explanations of madness cannot resist resorting to words like ‘just’, ‘only’, ‘all’, as in ‘you can’t be serious these people are merely, just, only, all they are is, all they need is, are just overwhelmed in life, are just going through a crisis, are just thinking differently to us, are just confused, are just….’
Whatever the interpretation proffered by the nonbiological claimant, it will never be enough for the brain blamers who lust to reduce humankind to molecules. It will sound ludicrous to the brain disease blamer to offer nonbiological interpretations of ‘crazy thoughts and crazy behavior’. It is just beyond credulity to them, for someone else to suggest that anyone could ever, anywhere on earth, in the history of man, ever, ever, believe strange things (delusions), or do strange things, without them being walking brain diseases. So every critic of the medical model should get used to hearing the ‘just’, ‘all’, etc minimizing language, as the author uses when she says:
“With regard to all they need is support, people who are acutely schizophrenic usually don’t pay any attention to you, however, supportive you are. They are too distracted by the internal stimuli.”
Feminists have a term called mansplaining:
A term which Urban Dictionary defines as:
“delighting in condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation.
I posit a new term, psychsplaining where a masters degree in biology gives you the right to declare the content of my consciousness to be “internal stimuli”, as though my beliefs, my thoughts and my feelings are analogous to a case of jock itch.
Of course with ‘psychsplaining’ nobody’s biology need be examined on the ground, not least the gentlemen in the ‘crazy behavior anecdotes’ of head banging. A wheelbarrow filled with unreplicated biological studies poured over the situation liberally, will suffice.
As with all of psychiatry, if bio-bio-bio talk is repeated often enough, if studies are cut and pasted enough, the hope is nobody will notice that today, just as in Bleuler’s time 100 years ago, the “diagnosis” of the “biological disease” of “being crazy” is made by someone seeing someone banging their head and pointing a finger at them, and unilaterally declaring something has “gone awry” with their brains.
Detainees who won’t speak to you when you are employed as their jailer, are assumed to be incapable of paying attention to you. Detainees for whom life has become very overwhelming become the allegedly powerless vessels of “internal stimuli”.
The psychsplaining of our never-examined dopaminergic systems aside, I see nothing much to see here.
In principle I agree with all you’ve just said (on June 30, 2013 at 11:12), and you’ve presented a *great* term: “mansplaining” (which, if ever I heard it used before, I guess it never registered in my consciousness, as meaningful).
Thanks for offering that word and definition.
I love to find good new words.
Really, I love new, unique combinations of words.
And, about your completely new term, “psychsplaining,” it seems to me that, perhaps, altering it just a bit — making it into “biopsychsplaining” — could be an improvement, as “psych” is a prefix that can often refer to ‘psychology’ (or, ‘psychological’); and, apparently, this blogger is *not* even the least bit interested in proposing any psychological explanations for why “patients” of psychiatry wind up tagged with the “schizophrenia” label.
But, she does feel compelled to address such people’s lives — because, for reasons which are not really made clear by her blog, she’s inclined to view their behaviors and experiences as quite basically negative.
And, yes, as commenters before me have pointed out, in her comment, on June 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm, she explains, ultimately, “I do think that schizophrenia is a terrible condition…”
This sort of attitude would tend to make such individuals seem as though endlessly doomed — especially, if/when going ‘untreated’ …would it not?
Obviously, she would like to keep their usual intake of so-called “antipsychotic” drugs to a minimum (just reading the title of her blog makes that clear).
Better that they be kept to a minimum, than to a maximum, IMO.
However, her expressed attitude could possibly make such people seem as though *objects* to be feared and/or pitied — which is problematic; and, in fact, I don’t think she wants us to pity them.
After all, from my reading of her last blog and corresponding comments, I gather, that: as a virtual rule, she’s *not* into pitying people, nor is she into therapeutic catharsis…
So, with respect to people who’ve garnered a “schizophrenia” label, she’s driven to adopt a positively pharma-skeptical *biopsychsplaining* approach, to addressing whatever aspects of their lives make them seem, dare I say, “schizophrenic”.
(People who accept the “schizophrenia” label must accept that they’ll be called, “schizophrenic”; it’s inevitable. Also, they will find researchers are fascinated by their brains. E.g., the blogger writes, “alterations in chandelier cells, a type of GABAergic interneuron, have been identified in the brains of schizophrenics at autopsy…”)
Actually, I am fascinated by this line, at the very end of her blog: “how antipsychotic drugs influence the free radicals”
Indeed, at the moment I’m somewhat fixated on that combination of words; for, suddenly, I can’t help but recall: I was becoming something of a free radical myself — before the influence of such drugs.
The imposition of such drugs put an instant halt to that side of me.
(Thank heavens, after just a few years, I found a way to successfully rid them from my body. That was nearly a quarter-century ago.)
After a couple of unsuccessful tries, I rid the drugs from my body rather quickly; that was decades ago; yet, it’s only been in just the past couple of years, that I can honestly say I am again feeling as though a free radical.
I am, at least, occasionally, feeling that way — as I surrender to the process, of exploring both the limits of bad ideas and the beauty of good ideas, online…
Pay no attention? That’s so untrue Jill. You have no idea what we hear/see/feel in altered states. It’s assumed in ‘catatonia’ that the lights are on but nobodies at home, the opposite is in fact the case, people in that state DO remember what is said and done to us. You’re also dismissive of depression and anxiety but this is part of the ‘othering’ and ‘specialling’ of ‘psychosis’ because it’s not immediately understandable to you
All this talk about free radicals is clearly related to stress.
There’s quite a bit of research into how the gut is effected, when people have symptoms of “schizophrenia.” That is ALSO related to stress. Stress clearly effects the gut.
And their might be some sort of immune reaction that causes inflammation in areas of the brain. That AGAIN is stress related.
The body is quite capable of dealing with all of that, it’s only when a person is under stress that this stops being the case.
Telling a person that when they are under stress, are experiencing symptoms of emotional stress; that they have an incurable illness, or that there’s something “awry” going on with them; and that you want to love them and help them by creating MORE stress in their life convincing them of all of this; this HAS BEEN proven to NOT induce healing. As well intentioned as anyone ever has been saying that they love schizophrenics, and think that they’re going through some horrible torture, and that they are going to find the physical cause and cure them; this as yet has to go anywhere much but making things worse. It ALSO causes an incredible amount of stress to tell someone that they have a physical flaw and this is causing their emotional distress, rather than actually helping them understand their emotions and teaching them how to alleviate stress, and not buy into creating it in their life.
Complicating everything, focusing on ONE effect while ignoring how this throws everything else out of balance (free radicals, dopamine, symptoms etc.), all this does is INCREASE stress. And healing DOES take place with such methods as the Soteria Project, Healing Homes of Finland, Open Dialogue and other places which don’t see a person as being flawed, which give them a safe haven, which don’t treat them in a patronizing way, saying they know what’s going on with their “disease” when in reality it’s all just theory and “good intentions.” And those methods that heal clearly do not cause stress, they empower the person; and they trust that their own process will heal them, which it does.
There’s also so often a whole spiritual awakening going on with “schizophrenia” that when allowed to happen, and allowed to help transcend fear, enlightens a person so that they recognize and learn to deal with stress and fear, and how to alleviate it. That’s also why they are “paranoid,” or are having thoughts that seem non-reality based. They’re learning how they caused this themselves, and you can trust that process, when you don’t interfere with it making it out to be a biological flaw and disabling their mind rather than allowing it to go through the healing process that’s been initiated. That’s spiritual. That’s something different than a society that runs on stress and fear. That’s another way that the self has of healing, rather than being made out to be a victim to physical limitations, which are only caused by the stress that one takes on investing in those limitations rather than looking beyond them towards a holistic perspective.
You’ve made some good points on this post with several of your comments. Thank you.
I think professionals would be beneficial if they helped in the area of holistic approaches – ie, gut health, but this is hardly what takes place on psychiatric wards.
I like what you have to say about the role of fear in exacerbation of a psychotic event. It makes a lot of sense, at least to me.
The most frustrating aspect of all of this, IMO, is that professionals are unable to separate an episode from a human being.
In short, psychosis is an *event*, not a *person*!
Duane, thanks for the support. It makes me feel less like one person screaming against a blank slate: “Please please… don’t try to fix me!”. It’s in itself stressful just to have to try to respond in regards schizophrenia, suggesting perhaps people would benefit to not be so alarmed that they make everything worse.
You’re right. The sense of alarm makes everything worse – like fuel to a flame.
IMO, we are all broken, but nobody needs to be “fixed” by another. An attempt to do so ends up with more brokenness – like a bull in a china shop.
Some people have the gift of seeing the wholeness inside someone in deep suffering. And seeing this wholeness helps bring it to light. But nobody can *give* a person this wholeness, only *be with* the person during an emotional crisis – as a fellow human being.
IMO, in order to deeply heal, the person suffering needs to feel understood, accepted and appreciated – not afraid.
This is the opposite of the system we have in place at the present time – the status quo.
You have some good things to say and I always enjoy your comments. Thanks for being part of MIA, Nijinsky.
“You have some good things to say and I always enjoy your comments. Thanks for being part of MIA, Nijinsky.”
A big ‘Ditto’ from me!
Nijinsky, IMO you deserve the MIA ‘Medal of Honor’ for how you’ve thus far replied to this blog. All of your comments have been great. I sure hope, for the blogger’s sake, that she’s *carefully* studying all that you’re saying.
It’s kinda funny–I’m actually finding myself really enjoying these biologically reductionistic blogs a lot–not because of the blog itself, of course, but because of the powerful, enlightening, and even at times greatly humorous challenges made by the commenters. Thanks, Duane, Jonah, Nijinsky, and others… you’ve really made my evening 🙂
The alarm is, indeed, awful. Alarm is what psychologists call “high expressed emotion” and they caution against it. People, especially those with labels, best work in an environment of low expressed emotion. Biological psychiatry violates this truth.
The whole belief system in regard to the brain blaming cult is facile, and this debate about beliefs that get labeled ‘delusional’ as being beliefs that shrink the brain, is infantile.
The people who believe this, are essentially saying that believing you are Jesus Christ, or believing that the CIA is out to get you, literally shrinks your brain. Literally damages your brain, to believe things the majority labels false beliefs.
People who make claims that one particular thought is literally toxic to the brain, are not serious thinkers. And while I am not foolish enough to claim that people who believe in psychiatry’s stories are harming their own brains by believing in them, they are harming society.
I discovered that fire is correlated with smoke.
Therefore smoke causes the fire?
Replace fire with brain shrinkage and smoke with relapse duration.
Now brain shrinkage is correlated with relapse duration.
Therefore relapses cause brain shrinkage?
Or is it the other way around?
Quote from the story: http://news.yahoo.com/tiny-electric-current-makes-others-look-better-111523142–abc-news-tech.html
“It’s worth noting, however, that the experiment also demonstrates just how vulnerable the human brain is to seemingly trivial external forces. Two milliamps is practically nothing, yet it produced a measurable effect. So it doesn’t take much to make a difference.
“Very small imbalances in your brain chemistry, which is related to brain electrical activities, can cause big problems,” Crib said.”
Which is why drug based “solutions” are so incredibly dangerous. We know so little about the incredibly complex brain. I continue to call for humbleness, caution and care. “Helping” may be hurting as Nijinsky so eloquently said.
Where are you?
This is the second time in two blog postings that you have disappeared when things have become a little heated. When people question your analysis, you either do not respond to their specific comments and questions, or you just disappear for a while.
The same thing happened in your last blog posting titled “Talk Therapy Can Cause Harm Too.” I believe Duane made serious mention of this problem at the end of your last blog, as did I.
I am detecting a pattern of participation at MIA that has problems involving both your method of struggle and the content of your analysis.
This pattern I am pointing out refers to your tendency to bail out of a sticky discussion and to your tendency to down play the role of trauma and environmental stress in the development of the symptoms that get labeled as “mental illness.”
The bailing out of discussions is just plain disrespectful and avoidant. I will once again ask you “Are you not promoting a version of the “chemical Imbalance” theory above, and can you provide evidence backing it up?” And “do you believe in the “brain disease” labels such as “schizophrenia” promoted by Biological Psychiatry?”
When environmental stressors are downplayed in the mental health field this plays right into the hands of Biological Psychiatry’s “genetic theories of original sin.”
Nijinsky (good job!), Duane,and Anonymous have raised serious questions about your tendency to downplay environmental factors. Are you planning to speak to their points?
In your last blog you promoted a view that downplayed the serious consequences of sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, and implied that talk therapy was more often a way to just keep people stuck in memories of their horror and stuck in a form of self pity. I am paraphrasing a combination of your blog and your FEW responses to challenges made in that discussion, but it seemed to be saying “just stop crying about it, buck up, and get on with your life.”
Your current blog dovetails with this type of downplaying of the role of trauma and stress while staying stuck in the phony science of the current paradigm of the medical model.
Jill, can you acknowledge some problems with your analysis? Can you acknowledge that you might be able to learn from some of the articulate and passionate writers at MIA, many of whom have experienced first hand what you write about in such a distant intellectual fashion?
Nobody is ever obligated to respond on anyone else’s timeline on this site. Perhaps Jill needs time to reflect on what was written. Perhaps she doesn’t care. This is her business, not ours. Some bloggers and commenters don’t respond at all. We do not, as a community, hold an expectation that individuals must complete a dialogue to our satisfaction. And even in a world where such an expectation existed, does sixteen hours over a Saturday night since the last comment really constitute “disappearing”? Or could we be jumping to conclusions? Might it not be fair and appropriate to pause for a couple days before making sweeping assertions about a person’s behavior being avoidant?
I think there’s some wonderful dialogue happening here. Important arguments are being made with attention to detail and civility. Let us not cross beyond the pale into shaming or judging someone whose statements are being strongly criticized by a choir of detractors. We are not here to do war with one another. Please state your disagreement with the ideas being offered, not your dislike of the person offering them.
I like to bear in mind that it requires great courage and integrity to engage effectively in any conversation where I am the one with the unpopular view.
I choose not to comment on this post as I still haven’t recovered form Jill’s recent piece that suggested that childhood sexual abuse isn’t traumatic and that other people’s opinions have no effect on a person’s self-esteem. Just not interested, sorry.
Since you asked, I’ll clarify my position. I do believe all behavior and all life derives from some biological process. This includes the banal behavior of all of us and those behaviors given labels in the DSM. I have a degree in biology. In neuro-anatomy, one learns the location of those neurons which are the final output on talking, on comprehending spoken and written speech, on making sense of what one sees, etc. When an individual has a stroke, neurologists generally assess those tasks a person can’t perform and then verifies with an MRI those cells that were destroyed. It would not surprise me, if there is an output switch on hearing voices. My guess is it’s in the Nucleus Accumbens because people who abuse stimulants increase activity in the N. Accumbens (seen on neuroimaging) and then report auditory hallucinations. In animal work, researchers stick in a probe and measure the dopamine release in the N. Accumbens in response to stimulant drugs. Dopamine levels increase in the N. Accumbens given ingestion of a stimulant. That’s my inferential process on why I hold this point of view about dopamine in the N. Acc being the switch on hallucinations.
My position on all behavior being based in biology should be no surprise. In my introduction on this blog, I said I would blog about food, exercise, life style and ways of influencing the biological processes that manifest as behavioral phenomena. I do believe in looking at explanations for many things in physiological processes. I am aware of environment playing a role in some phenomena. Again, though one has to be specific. In addressing the question of a biological base, I usually look at the adoption studies, where babies with biological pedigrees for some condition get raised in non-stressful, supportive environments. Then you count the number of now adult adoptees who manifest the phenomenon. There are specifics for most conditions in the DSM.
Where I diverge from psychiatry: I don’t think in terms of “disease” on anything. Classifications are invented systems. They have no “truth”. They are hopefully helpful, although not necessarily so. Even when looking at cancer cells, it’s pretty hard to establish where the line is and deciding when to call it. We now know that normal people carry around more microbe cells than human cells. So what’s an infection? I teach substance abuse and in my class we talk about whether alcoholism is a disease. The problem is in defining “disease”. It’s a term that connotes without denoting: who knows what it means. I suggest we, as a class, just talk in terms of processes we can describe. Forget the label. Also, I tell the class that if someone is going to make a statement about what causes alcoholism, I generally will ask, “where’s your data?”, “tell me about the findings from the study and describe the researcher’s methodology.”
With regard to schizophrenia, I have seen people who were very frightened during their delusions and hallucinations. They looked like they were suffering. I don’t think I, or anyone else, knows for sure the source of the distress. I have never encouraged anyone to “take their medications”. My job, as a social worker, was to find people a place to live; after becoming a psychologist at CIGNA and later in private practice, I rarely had saw anyone with schizophrenia, although I did evaluate several people for SSI. If some people wanted to take the meds, it was up to them.
Presently, I do not think there is a category of psychotropic medication in the formulary that offers a solution without exacting a terrible side effect profile. Doctors, perhaps not wishing to avoid suggesting symptoms, are rarely completely forthcoming about side effects. Drug companies comply with the law most of the time, but drug reps downplay side effects when informing doctors. Everyone then is taking a big chance when ingesting anything that someone cooked up in the chem lab. With regard to ever coming up with good psychotropic drugs, I’m skeptical. As my husband says, “these guys think they’re going to improve on evolution” . “good luck”. But, I do think one should keep an open mind and evaluate the specifics.
I know that everyone that visits this web-site is well intentioned. I think human support is very important. I wish it could cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species. Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer. I’ll be attending the conference at the Copeland Center in September. I’m hoping to be encouraged by what I see and hear.
Jill Littrell, Ph.D.:
You must be aware, from reading my preceding comments, that I am skeptical (to say the least) of your approach to so-called “schizophrenia”; yet, here I’ll add that I believe you demonstrate a really excellent ability to express yourself clearly, in writing.
E.g., that’s a very cogent statement of your professional background and paradigmatic orientation, which you’ve just offered.
And, the fact that you are truly quite skeptical of psychopharmaceuticals is to your credit.
Indeed, obviously, that aligns you and your blogging, to some extent, with the overall theme of this website.
You are a good addition to this website.
Though, naturally, you well understand, many MIA readers (including yours truly) are going to shudder deeply, with a sense of certain horror, upon reading what is (perhaps, always?) your seemingly characteristic *downplay* of environmental factors, on the development of personal behaviors, emotions and thoughts.
E.g., you explain, “I am aware of environment playing a role in some phenomena.” Personally, I feel certain that the environment plays a role in all phenomena. IMO there is simply no way to reasonably deny this.
From this point of view, I do care to ask you about something you’ve just said.
“I think human support is very important. I wish it could cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species. Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer.”
First of all, do you know of any peer-reviewed studies that could reliably verify a supposed “schizophrenia” diagnosis?
I mean, how can you refer to “cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia” all in one breath?
The first three phenomena (cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s) are completely verifiable diagnoses.
To my knowledge, “schizophrenia” is not a verifiable diagnosis (at least, not in the scientific sense, that the first three are).
To any and all MIA readers and/or bloggers and/or commenters (and, especially, to commenter Nijinsky, who, on June 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm, posted a very interesting and, really, I must say, excellent response to Jill Littrell, Ph.D.’s comment, of June 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm):
I am writing this comment (and considering posting it) because I care to say a few things here, before going to sleep…
I care to say that I am feeling very grateful to Robert Whitaker and his MIA staff — for the fact that they’ve developed this website, where anyone can engage in fascinating discussions regarding “Science, Psychiatry and Community.” (That is the first thing I wish to say.)
Also, I am feeling grateful to many of the people (really, most) whom I’ve noticed, over this past year, contributing their thoughts to this website. (That is the second thing.)
Specifically, right now, I happen to be feeling most grateful to commenter Nijinsky. (That’s the third thing.)
Because, in that comment of his, posted below (on June 30, 2013 at 9:49 pm), he’s essentially done a fantastic job of expressing what I feel were my sentiments, which I was not allowing myself to express, in my comment posted above (on June 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm).
Reading his comment, I was reminded of my own as yet *unexpressed* expressions.
He offered the impassioned expressions, that I would not offer.
My comment, above, was, instead, deliberately written from a rather ‘dispassionate’ position, as it seeks to engage the blogger (Jill Littrell, Ph.D.) in a friendly game of what one could reasonably call “logical chicken”.
“The game of chicken, also known as the hawk-dove game or snow-drift game, is an influential model of conflict for two players in game theory. The principle of the game is that while each player prefers not to yield to the other, the worst possible outcome occurs when both players do not yield.”
‘Logical chicken’ would be a game which pitted two logicians against each other, each one forwarding the opposite view of the other.
That comment of mine (on June 30, 2013 at 8:59 pm) is designed (and, please note: by saying “designed,” I mean it was very naturally and spontaneously designed, but, yes, it was designed by me) to challenge the blogger, as one poker player might challenge another, hopefully ‘forcing’ her to show her hand.
I relate this game of ‘logical chicken’ to a game of poker.
I am no great expert on the subject of “schizophrenia,” after all; I don’t know more about that subject than many who frequent this website.
I have done some writing about the subject, online — but mainly for my own edification and never professionally.
And, I have never been trained as a ‘mental health’ pro.
Simply, I have known people with that “schizophrenia” label, and I’ve observed them, and I’ve done a bit of reading on the subject.
Then, ultimately (years ago), I came to realize, that: “schizophrenia” is — in even the most concrete sense — a rather incredibly *non-specific* set of phenomena.
(Think, for instance, of this word, “dreams.” What, in total, does that word conjure in your mind, as you think of it for a few moments? The word “schizophrenia” will surely conjure at least that many vague and various notions, in the mind of anyone who has thoughtfully considered that subject, reading about it and meeting people who’ve been tagged with the label.)
Hence, in various cultures, some people will be viewed as deserving that label (“schizophrenic”), others will not be — quite despite the fact that they may, indeed, be experiencing, apparently, very similar phenomena, in terms of a certain quality of thoughts and/or behaviors and/or emotions.
What I am saying is that “schizophrenia” is an *abstraction* that represents a wide array of phenomena. One can experience any number of those phenomena — and wind up garnering the “schizophrenia” label.
So, who would look for ‘a cause’ of “schizophrenia”? or even a ‘set of causes’ for “schizophrenia”?
“Schizophrenia” is *not* any one ‘thing’ — nor even a closed set of ‘things’.
To go about looking for ‘a cause’ or even to seek a particular ‘set of causes’ for ‘it’ will always be a fool’s errand.
Realistically speaking, only an huge — really vastly huge — number of causes could ultimately be called ‘the causes of it’ …because the vast number of cases of officially deemed “schizophrenia” throughout the world are all products of an infinite array of ‘stressors’ and/or ‘precipitants’.
Why even challenge the blogger to a game of ‘logical chicken’? The result would be a forgone conclusion.
I would win, but she would probably never concede to losing, because she’s heavily invested in her hypothesis, which suggests that there is supposedly a clear set of biological causes for ‘it’.
Why challenge her?
Doing so would not be for my benefit; it would be, hopefully, for the benefit of those readers who might not already realize “schizophrenia” is truly *not* comparable to those three quite tangible diseases, which the blogger alludes to (cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s).
The challenge need not continue; and, it is actually unnecessary, from my point of view, to offer explanations for why I say that the “schizophrenia” concept is not comparable to those very real physiological diseases — given ‘just’ what I’ve already explained here about the concept of “schizophrenia”; it should require no further explanation, except that, perhaps, some few readers will need a further explanation, to understand? Just maybe…
If there are, perhaps, readers who do need at least a bit more explaining, I shall be more than happy to to answer their questions, if they will ask.
Even if no one asks, I figure some few MIA readers are probably not aware that “schizophrenia” is actually rather widely understood to be an ‘umbrella’ term, representing a vast array of potential phenomena, all which could possibly be viewed as ‘symptoms’ of ‘it’; and, most nearly everyone who studies ‘it’ knows: there is no ‘biological marker’ for ‘it’; the existence of “schizophrenia” cannot be physiologically verified.
Hence, Jill Littrell, Ph.D. cannot win my friendly game. Whatever she might say, she would lose.
I can tell you that, in advance — simply because she set herself up for failing her argument, the moment she posted her comment (June 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm).
And, yes, she is forwarding an argument.
Nijinsky is perfectly clear on that point.
Jill Littrell, Ph.D. is forwarding the argument that (in her view) “schizophrenia” is on a par with cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s; thus, she says loving care probably won’t “cure schizophrenia”; what might “cure schizophrenia” (in her view) is some sort of chemical remedy — probably not (in her view) created in a pharmaceutical lab.
I am glad that she’s not proposing we search for a psychopharmaceutical “cure” for “schizophrenia”; and, really, it doesn’t bother me to think of her seeking biological causes (but, certainly, these couldn’t be universal causes).
In fact, many people (including I, myself) believe that, in many instances, of what are officially deemed “cases of schizophrenia,” healthy nutrition can (and, almost certainly, must) play a key role toward ‘healing’ (and/or, toward ‘recovery’) or ‘resolution’ of some essential suffering; and, MIA readers are aware that many people feel that certain nutritional supplements are especially helpful, in many instances, toward effecting such ends. I believe there’s much truth to that; I think there are often biological causes, nutritional matters, that lead people into personal crises, that may be viewed as “schizophrenia”.
None of what I’m saying should come as a surprise to most who are frequent readers and bloggers on this MIA website.
What bothers me (and, from reading his comment, below, I feel this is what’s bothering Nijinsky, too) is a sense that Jill Littrell, Ph.D. may be forwarding an argument that *denies* certain causes of distress, which lead to personal crises, that are often called “schizophrenia”.
Indeed, she is overstating neurological causation (brain-blaming).
And, hence, she would, perhaps, be leading some readers to overlook (and/or, maybe even to condemn) possible ‘healing’ modalities, that could be quite helpful…
She is, in essence, wagging the dog.
The following couple of italicized paragraphs come from UsingEnglish.com:
“To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.”
“The expression comes from the saying that ‘a dog is smarter than its tail’, but if the tail were smarter, then the tail would ‘wag the dog’. The expression ‘wag the dog’ was elaborately used as theme of the movie. ‘Wag the Dog’, a 1997 film starring Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman, produced and directed by Barry Levinson.”
That’s all I have to say for now…
I’m sure I’ve mentioned enough of the methods the biological method represses that actually do heal “Schizophrenia,” exactly because they don’t put it in the same bag with actual biological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Huntington’s etc.
Please do not be as patronizing as the following statements, when simply actually reading Robert Whitaker’s books supply enough proof that human support DOES heal “schizophrenia”:
“I know that everyone that visits this web-site is well intentioned. I think human support is very important. I wish it could cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species. Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer. I’ll be attending the conference at the Copeland Center in September. I’m hoping to be encouraged by what I see and hear.”
We HAVE already gotten good results. Why is it that this can be repeated consistently and you overlook it? Are we supposed to believe that your dismissal has a “biological reason,” and look for a cure for that!?
Simple things like music have also been shown to help amazingly with Alzheimer’s, even though it does have a biological basis one could get obsessed about and that turns up in lab results.
And sorry, I really only see you going around in circles. As in these lab results have this result, which goes with that, although we don’t know these things at all, and there could be multiple conclusions we could make but this might point out blah blah blah because I think there’s a biological cause; and I’ll be positive about simple support helping, although I ignore that it already has been proven to and keep fussing about what hasn’t been proven to help.
If you aren’t making things better, which another method does do, WHY don’t you just leave it alone!?
It really doesn’t have to be the magical pill or controlled chemical process which solves everything, as little as that sacrificing a goat used to be seen to do the same.
Sorry if this comment seems angry, but we REALLY aren’t just a bunch of people with good intentions, what we are talking about has been PROVEN to heal, not an experiment looking for proof of a theory. And there are people truly able to deal with the spiritual symbolism and emotional wounds yearning for expression and release that goes on in “schizophrenia,” the alleged biological disease. And that’s where healing has been proven to occur. Even for those calling it a disease….Taking care of yourself, nutrition etc..isn’t thrown out the window this way, either. it’s enhanced when a person can express themselves and follow their natural instincts. And it’s done holistically not as something to focus on and get obsessed about in itself, which can cause again more stress, which then requires more obsession which requires more stress etc.
So this TRULY isn’t: “Oh that’s nice, but it really is a horrible biological disease, and I have to be serious and responsible and focus on that.”
Well, and how about Open Dialog? Sounds like a lot of “schizophrenia” (whatever THAT really is) has been cured by human support. Soteria House is another example. In fact, simply living in Brazil seems to be helpful, as they don’t use many drugs, and may possibly be less judgmental of those who are hearing voices, etc.
And I think there’s been some data supporting that even cancer is impacted by levels of social support.
Just because our experiences have biological correlates, doesn’t mean that these correlates are casuative of our experiences. Jill is sounding like a reductionist, which she’s entitled to be, but that’s a philosophical viewpoint, not a scientific one. She would have to explain in biological terms exactly how and why talking to or listening to someone in a calm environment reduces these supposedly biological symptoms.
One last comment – I’ve talked to lots of very agitated “schizophrenics” in delusional or hallucinatory states. I have found that the vast majority were very capable of communicating me if I was willing to listen to what they had to say first. Not that it was always easy to sort out what they meant, but making the effort almost always created a calmer situation. And sometimes, they made a whole lot more sense than they were being given credit for. They mostly needed to know that I cared about trying to figure out what they were trying to communicate. Which seems pretty normal to me.
“Sounds like a lot of “schizophrenia” (whatever THAT really is) has been cured by human support.”
Your comment is excellent; as usual, you are making great points.
I agree, in principle, with the overall gist of all that you say (at 4:09, directly above).
But, I do feel it’s necessary to point out, that: All talk of “schizophrenia” being “cured” is inevitably *speculative* — because no one can ever prove that ‘it’ exists in the first place.
Of course, that’s not to suggest that sufferings referred to as “schizophrenia symtoms” don’t exist; nor is it to say that such sufferings can’t be fully resolved.
I believe they can be fully resolved.
One can look carefully at the lives of many who’ve been tagged with the “schizophrenia” label and very realistically say that they don’t seem to be “schizophrenic” at all — because, really, they are not suffering in the least nor showing any ‘signs’ of being less ‘sane’ than anyone else we know.
When does a supposed “mental illness” exist? When is a supposed “mental illness” cured?
Anyone once called “mentally ill” who later seems fine is likely to be seen as “in remission” or “currently non-symptomatic”; or else, some might say, s/he “was previously misdiagnosed”.
And, really, this is why the whole concept of ‘mental illness’ should be very seriously questioned (if not simply eschewed).
(Really, IMO, psychiatry’s medical model is ruinous — and here’s why…)
Scientifically speaking, we can, of course, very reasonably consider the possibility of establishing “cures” for many sorts of sufferings — but only those sorts of sufferings which can be *objectively* perceived as *existent* (e.g., yes, we certainly can, quite reasonably, search for cures for scientifically confirmed physiological diseases).
“Schizophrenia” cannot be proven to exist — except by way of the entirely subjective perception and pronouncement of a psychiatrist.
So, no “cure” for ‘it’ will ever be established (at least, not officially speaking).
Individual psychiatrists may (only rarely) proclaim a certain “patient” has been “cured” of “schizophrenia”.
But, no particular cure for ‘it’ will be widely established or accepted as valid.
To establish a “cure” for ‘it’ (in the medically and scientifically objective sense, of that word, “cure”) would require proving that ‘it’ existed in the first place (e.g., as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s can be proven to exist).
There’s a *great* blog that’s just been posted by Paris Williams, Ph.D. (maybe you’ve seen it?): “Rethinking Mental Health, Part 1: From Positivism to a Holistic/Organismic Paradigm”.
I highly recommend that blog… especially, to any who may be interested in these discussions, in this particular thread of comments, regarding the topic of “schizophrenia”. (I highly recommend reading that blog, which happened to be posted right after this blog and its subsequent discussion began.)
I complimented Jill Littrell, Ph.D. on her writing abilities, above — because, in fact, she wrote of her own academic background and views in a style that is fairly straightforward and comprehensive.
But, her conversation on “schizophrenia” draws conclusions that are unproven; i.e., it is highly positivist in nature; hence, she’s being misleading.
Talk of a potential “cure” — and/or, talk of some seeming lack of “cure” — for any genuine disease (e.g., cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s) should not be offered in the same breath that one speaks of a potential “cure” (or, speaks of a seeming lack of “cure”) for “schizophrenia” — because “schizophrenia” can not even be proven to exist.
No bona fide cure can be established for a potentially non-existent phenomena. Period.
She’s simply propagating the myth of mental illness.
IMO, she would do well to (A) consider a more purely phenomenological way of speaking about whatever phenomena she is aiming to address — and (B) realize that “schizophrenia” is a subjectively applied label.
E.g., she discusses the phenomena of ‘hearing voices’ — OK; but, she doesn’t acknowledge that many people are fine with ‘hearing voices’.
Does she even realize that there are various ways in which ‘voices’ reportedly are manifested?
Does she understand that many who’ve been tagged with the “schizophrenia” label have never reported ‘hearing voices’?
Hopefully, she’ll return to this page and admit that merging so-called “schizophrenia” with real physical diseases (i.e., phenomena that are objectively identifiable as existent according to clear biological markers) is really just a way to posit this ultimately *unprovable* hypothesis, that “schizophrenia” is a physical disease.
And, note, she writes,
“I don’t think in terms of “disease” on anything. Classifications are invented systems. They have no “truth”.”
Is she saying there, that she rejects nosology of every kind? Then why does she talk about “schizophrenia” at all?
IMO, there’s no way, by this point, to understand what she means when she says, “Classifications are invented systems. They have no “truth”.”
She also says, about this word, “disease”:
“It’s a term that connotes without denoting: who knows what it means. I suggest we, as a class, just talk in terms of processes we can describe. Forget the label.”
Forget the label?
Does she forget the “schizophrenia” label?
To the contrary, she obviously considers “schizophrenia” to be a valid classification.
I think she’s just inclined to want to take the word “disease” out of her conversations.
That should *not* dissuade us from recognizing that, in so many ways, she is quite obviously aiming to equate “schizophrenia” with a number of potentially devastating, verifiably *real* physical diseases.
IMO, that she offers such an equation tends to make her seem like a psychiatrist.
Thomas Szasz famously called “schizophrenia” the “sacred symbol of psychiatry.”
From reading Robert Whitaker’s research, many MIA readers well realize, that: in many instances, when people are speaking of their experiences with and/or observations of “schizophrenia,” they’re actually relating *mainly* their experiences/observations of iatrogenic effects (i.e., effects caused by the ‘diagnosis’ and ‘treatment’ of “schizophrenia”).
Tragically, in the course of the past century (since the “schizophrenia” label was first coined), millions who’ve been tagged with the “schizophrenia” label and ‘treated’ for ‘it’ have been more or less *destroyed* by that ‘treatment’.
Many have suffered terribly as a result of the psychiatric ‘care’ they received, having garnered the “schizophrenia” label.
Apologists for psychiatry tend to hide that fact — or downplay it; I don’t believe Jill Littrell, Ph.D. is an apologist for psychiatry.
Perhaps, she is just unaware that, in the conclusion of her comment, she could seems to be suggesting that, in her view, relief from such sufferings can’t be found in human support.
She seems to be suggesting that human support can’t resolve sufferings associated with the “schizophrenia” label.
Does she really mean to say that? I don’t know.
Frankly, I’m confused by many of her expressions.
Hopefully, she’ll read the comments generated by this last comment of hers, and she will, in due time, post again, offering clarifications.
Meanwhile, we do our best to understand her words, on our own…
“I know that everyone that visits this web-site is well intentioned. I think human support is very important. I wish it could cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species. Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer.” ~Jill Littrell, Ph.D.
You are right, of course. I should have put “cure” in quotes. I was using her words, but should be more careful to be clear that I don’t see any “mental illness” as a disease, and hence don’t see them being “curable” any more than playing with one’s mustache or eating vanilla ice cream is curable. Thanks as always for reminding us of the power of language to shape how we think.
I’ve come to believe that there’s always truth in what people with this label try to share with me. I just don’t always understand how to go about finding it. But with repeatedly sitting with a person and listening, like you recommend, I sometimes find the pattern of symbolism that many people tend to use. By responding and sharing what I’m “hearing” from them they in turn let me know whether I’m getting “hot” or “cold” in my understanding. It’s time consuming and takes a lot of energy to concentrate like this. But it can be done.
It’s similar to what a good hospital chaplain does, since very few people lying in the hospital bed really start off talking about what’s really bothering or scaring them. It’s like taking a journey together but you have to concentrate and really listen while suspending your assumptions about what you think you know. You have to be as “open” as possible to the other and let them guide you, rather than you trying to take the reins and telling them what they mean.
But of course, most psychiatrists state that this isn’t theuraputic and is a big waste of time. “Most psychiatric patients lie all the time and only try to manipulate to get what they want!” The person’s story may not be “real” to the psychiatrist but it’s real and true for the person going through the experience.
I was wondering how Jill knows that the person labeled as “schizophrenic” isn’t paying attention to her. How can she make statements about someone else’s internal responses and experience. They used to say the same thing about people who were in a coma or were in the last stages of dying and seemed non-responsive. I can never assume to knoiw what a person is hearing or feeling and therefore must be very careful what I say about and around everyone.
I get the feeling that you’ve helped a lot of people in your life. Thank you for adding so much to this site.
yes Steve, if we listen for long enough all distress no matter how it’s expressed can be understood and placed in context. When my deaf friend is in crisis defined as ‘Bipolar’ he removes his hearing aids and shouts about his hearing, clearly his distress about his sensory disability is a part of that crisis – but it’s never heard, they only pay lip service to this, viewing his crisis as illness and his hearing as secondary
[[attacks, misrepresentations removed]]
I really enjoyed the humor hear. Thank You. Trying to decide between New York and/or New Guinea as best genetic marker/s…
Good Nijinksy, your comments here are good, we’ve gotta keep fighting for freedom and the truth in the face of absurd brain claims.
Sorry to have missed your comments.
“With regard to schizophrenia, I have seen people who were very frightened during their delusions and hallucinations. They looked like they were suffering.”
Have you ever been very frightened while thinking certain thoughts? Did you look like you were suffering while being frightened thinking these certain thoughts? Now you will probably object that, yes, but your experience was very different from “schizophrenia” in that the very frightening thoughts that crossed your mind, and thus caused you to look like you were suffering, were based on reality, and thus meaningful, while those of “schizophrenics” are not. At least, this is the argument usually brought up by the proponents of the “it’s all some brain stuff gone awry” perspective on so-called “schizophrenia”. But how can you know? How can you be sure that what you call “delusions” and “hallucinations” isn’t based on any reality at all? Have you always, in each and every case, fully explored each and every imaginable interpretation of these “delusions” and “hallucinations” before you arrived at the conclusion that they’re not based on any reality? Or is there a possibility that the label, “mental illness”, i.e. meaningless, not based on reality, maybe made you jump to the conclusion without further investigation whenever something didn’t immediately fit into your own concept of reality? Is it maybe possible that “meaningless madness” actually more is a problem of somebody not being able (or willing) to understand than of somebody not making sense because of a broken brain “gone awry”?
I’d encourage you to take a look at other than the biomedical, positivistic reductionist, indeed, perspectives. Perspectives such as Finnish Open Dialogue’s, or the Hearing Voices Network’s (Rufus May, who somebody already has mentioned, Jacqui Dillon, and Olga Runciman are all prominent representatives of the HVN and its perspective on altered states of consciousness, and they’re bloggers on this site) which all view “schizophrenia” as “just part of being alive”. I’d especially encourage you to take a thorough look at the outcomes of these approaches, and compare them to the outcomes of the biomedical, broken brain “gone awry” approach. The HVN’s outcomes aren’t documented other than in personal accounts. We believe that personal accounts, qualitative research so to speak, are what counts. We are the evidence: http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/05/voices-matter/. It may not be RCT-based evidence, but nevertheless, and like Olga Runciman says in this interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnsCyR59Hd8, we see people recover when we sit down and engage in a dialogue with them about their experiences, and maybe even with their voices, while we don’t see them recover in a system where the best they can hope for is that somebody comes by and offers a little distraction, for instance in the shape of playing a board game. The question I think is whether you regard life to be just another RCT, or whether there maybe is a little more to it. A collection of personal accounts can be found in the book “Living with Voices. 50 stories of recovery” (http://www.intervoiceonline.org/publications/personal-experiences). Anyway, the outcomes of Finnish Open Dialogue are well-documented according to the standards of quantitative research (the recovery rate is actually 83% — somebody quoted 80% — achieved by providing human support, to use your own words), and thus a little easier to access for somebody who, as I presume, hasn’t been looking at these things before.
I do understand how it can be quite comforting to try and establish and maintain a sense of safety in the face of the complexity of life in trying to understand life as merely being the sum of its material parts (you might also be interested in Paris William’s brilliant essay “Rethinking Mental Health, Part 1: From Positivism to a Holistic/Organismic Paradigm”, recently posted on this site), which we, if only we can get to see them all on a CT or fMRI scan, then would be able to gain complete control over. Unfortunately, I think, it is a false sense of safety this denial of the complexity of life has us gain, and as such all it will create is an ever growing and, no matter how much knowledge we gather together, forever unsatisfied need for control, which on its part will create not less, but ever more suffering. — And isn’t it that we can see this actually happen, not least in the mh field: the more we label (categorize) and “treat” (control) the greater and the more widespread the suffering becomes. — A true sense of safety is based on trust, and the wisdom that has you trust in life. It is not based on knowledge gathered together in order to gain control over what more often than not are our very own, deepest fears. Without doubt, there is a somewhat entertaining quality to looking at CT and fMRI scans. That there would be any value beyond the entertainment to it when it comes to understanding existential suffering, I seriously doubt.
I thought I’d just share two quotes from Doctor Littrell’s responses:
“Also, I tell the class that if someone is going to make a statement about what causes alcoholism, I generally will ask, “where’s your data?”, “tell me about the findings from the study and describe the researcher’s methodology.”
“With regard to all they need is support, people who are acutely schizophrenic usually don’t pay any attention to you, however, supportive you are. They are too distracted by the internal stimuli. Often, they are very scared. When I worked on a receiving unit at the state hospital, one new admission (never had been medicated) kept hitting his head against the wall in an attempt to make the voice go away. I sat down with him and we played a board game, my attempt to distract him. He looked a little less frightened. Another guy was convinced that his brain was infected and worms were coming out of his nose. I don’t have a problem with something being horribly “gone awry” with regard to schizophrenia, although people are only guessing on what it could be. I would not make this case for depression and anxiety-which I regard as just part of being alive.”
Sorry, but isn’t the latter completely anecdotal in how it supports it’s statement about the freedoms allocated in how one should view “schizophrenia?” What does the former quote say about this, regarding how a student should support their statements? And this in regards to whether “support” in itself can heal schizophrenia.
The point being that when something is perceived as having a certain degree of severity, it’s “normal” to then assume that a physical intervention needs to take place; even when there’s abundant evidence that it’s exactly NOT interfering physically, but giving emotional support, giving thought a chance that statistically (and economically and in regards human rights) heals this condition. The same regarding “voices.”
And here Doctor Littrel says she’s not trying to define in terms of diseases (but makes statements using anecdotal evidence that she says she in general wouldn’t allow to pass if it were a student). And to me, this is all terribly confusing to anyone really taking it seriously and trying to be conscientious about it:
“Where I diverge from psychiatry: I don’t think in terms of “disease” on anything. Classifications are invented systems. They have no “truth”. They are hopefully helpful, although not necessarily so. Even when looking at cancer cells, it’s pretty hard to establish where the line is and deciding when to call it. We now know that normal people carry around more microbe cells than human cells. So what’s an infection? I teach substance abuse and in my class we talk about whether alcoholism is a disease. The problem is in defining “disease”. It’s a term that connotes without denoting: who knows what it means. I suggest we, as a class, just talk in terms of processes we can describe. Forget the label. Also, I tell the class that if someone is going to make a statement about what causes alcoholism, I generally will ask, “where’s your data?”, “tell me about the findings from the study and describe the researcher’s methodology.”
“I think human support is very important…schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species. Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer.”
I was cured of SZ by with human assistance in the form of psychotherapy (not Pharma’s talk-therapy as you have described it which is behaviour control) over 35 years ago. I am willing to share the process with anyone who wishes to learn from me so that they can assist other SZ who are similar to myself as I was (and I think there are many) to be cured, as well as to use the same techniques to which are quite applicable to many who have the DSM labels. My blog is easy to find , anyone can contact me there.
And yes not only did I reach the end of psychotherapy I also got a sign off independently from a Psychiatric Institute. It was probably filed in the ‘shredder’ drawer. I actually had a copy of the document in transit. If I had only known the significance of it then I would have made a copy.
I think your offer to cheer is quite disingenuous or perhaps you simply don’t know the consequences of creating a closed conceptual model. Your model cannot accommodate any other paradigm of reality. You have declared the psychic world to be flat and you have no way to explain the explorers who return.
After I was cured I found myself rejected by the social order precisely because of an establishment that had beliefs and attitudes just as you have expressed. I had a new personality that did not match my former life identity. I no longer had any social fear or anxiety so I had no “engine” any longer that could generate any kind of mental illness. As a new personality the only way I could survive and have social success was to create a false identity and hide every trace of my past, none of which had any correlation with my new personalty which was created in psychotherapy. I became fully emotionally alive and emotionally self-reliant 30 years after I was born emerging from a condition fully encompassing the label ‘SZ”.
In the last few years, through internet magic, I have found several others who also who also became cured or to use a different concept-underwent personality reconstruction or however one wants to describe it, and they did the same thing I did – ie they went underground to have a career, a family etc- and they still are there – hiding from the ‘Guardians of Mental Health’ who have now established a full alliance with the Government and Private Industry.
Now if I was a failure and remained a SZ, I would have had a place in the mental health community, gotten living help from the health care system, the government, and I could have even made a bridge to the social order and found work , housing etc. But being a success I was rejected by both worlds – it was very hard times indeed – in fact the worst of my life , a person who has no legitimate existence nor acknowledged history in society.
I got kicked off disability welfare for becoming healthy and the government man at the employment office refused to hand me the job card for a floor sweeper because he said my past history indicted “I had a problem”.
Charybdis and Scylla.
Oh, don’t worry, I more than survived, but not by being part of the known universe.
So for anyone to get what a huge hypocritical industry pretends they want to achieve and what millions ostensibly think they are clamouring for… will actually make that person, a pariah and have to live like a hunted criminal for the rest of their life. It’s like waking up in a science fiction novel – everything is found to be a lie, an illusion..
I don’t believe you want to cheer. I studied your talk therapy advice it is deliberately designed for what I define as failure. I have a blog , I’m going to make a full analysis of your advice on talk therapy there. It’s nothing personal to do with you, you are an excellent example or reflection of popular Pharma Ideology, IMO, a model of what is wrong with Pharma’s “Talk Therapy’ and I can use that for my purpose to share from my experience what succeeds in genuine psychotherapy. In another perspective your advice certainly works – it works for the purposes of your ideology which is designed or motivated to control others. And control it is – they will not be negative! you advocate what I call ‘happy face fascism” (quite common with the pharmacop therapists and social workers) and they will not experience any negative emotions in your here and now and thus you cannot effect functional change to those things. And even you want to tell them how to live etc etc. That is all anathema to everything I ever learned or experienced in a successful psychotherapy. The people that assisted me, assisted others to healthy functioning and that is all they did – they helped people to WORK on themselves – they never told them what to think , what to feel what not to feel, what to do with their lives – they simply trusted the basic nature of human beings and assisted them to achieve function as human beings.
You don’t have to control people to go out and have a good time or live well if you help them resolve their historical neurosis – they do that all good stuff by themselves naturally if and when they wish to. But that is only if you can help them resolve their problems and can lead them to emotional independence. I don’t see how you could with your advice and its’ clear your advice is designed to achieve the opposite. It’s the Pharma-med paradigm of establishing patient dependence and therapist control.
The mental health establishment has no room for and does not want anyone who has successfully solved any serious mental health syndrome or condition on the DSM “death list” ( a better or nicer word currently eludes me) It would blow the whole industry – and not just the money – the whole idea of control would lose legitimacy and authority.
This is the world you people as a group empowered by Pharma have created: that if people are cured, if their basic dysfunction is resolved it is not recognized or celebrated – credit is not given where due and even most importantly the torch is not passed on. The world you have helped create is one in which the entire social order is hostile to anyone is cured.
Incidentally, as a person who went through all the stages of SZ including extreme psychosis etc , I never experienced SZ itself as a stress producer. SZ for me was a reaction to stress producers and to inner emotional conflict. SZ was in fact me, it was not something outside of me or separate from me.
I may be a stress producer but I am not a thing, I am a consciousness.
Problems of consciousness can only be resolved by consciousness itself. Chemicals can add to the mix but they cannot give direction and awareness to consciousness. ‘Work’ can only be done by consciousness.
SZ has everything to do with the emotions and basic emotional conflict which can be resolved if these conflicts are resolved. SZ operates on the emotional-psychological level and a very rich one at that – rich in human experience ..especially and this is quite interesting to cross correlate – SZ has everything to do with fear and that negative emotion which you seem to abhor or wish to control or even ban in others, as per, your talk therapy advice ie anger.
When I resolved my basic emotional conflict, the floodgates opened, I became fully emotionally alive and what a wonder it was and how wonderful it was that everything about myself and others now made sense.
So why do you and others work so hard to deny this gift of life to so many others that could experience it?
That’s rhetorical – I know the answer but I don’t want to say it openly here – but generally I think it has to do with the common reason among many of our race who feel the need to control the human experience of others – because they fear it, they fear what they can’t understand, what they haven’t experienced, what they don’t want to experience and they fear what others who they can’t understand will do.
They want a simple predictable controlled world and Pharma has given them the power to have it.
The Pharma Ascendency is the end of human emotion and motivation – it’s the end of human evolution – for the masses anyway (biologists and psychiatrists included – though you may have assured yourselves near the end of the list) – I assume the elites or some portion thereof will go on excluding themselves from the control process until their Frankenstein will turn.
P.S. — Occasionally, in the blogosphere, I’ve wished that an apparently departed blogger would make time to carefully read and respond to at least one more comment on the page (i.e., a particular comment, especially deserving of a thoughtful answer); here, in this case, it is this comment of yours (on July 7, 2013 at 8:10 am) that, were it up to my wishing, would receive such an eleventh hour response.
P.P.S. — I am most heartened by what you say, in the bold print, that I’ve added to your following lines…
“In the last few years, through internet magic, I have found several others who also who also became cured or to use a different concept-underwent personality reconstruction or however one wants to describe it, and they did the same thing I did – ie they went underground to have a career, a family etc- and they still are there – hiding from the ‘Guardians of Mental Health’ who have now established a full alliance with the Government and Private Industry.”
IMO it is extremely important to allow people to employ words — and, ultimately, narratives — that best fit their own understandings of what they have been through, in total (including what changes they have made in their own lives).
When speaking in terms of establishing “cures,” there is always the danger of getting oneself and others caught up, in this notion, that here we may be aiming for one momentary ‘end-point’ — after addressing some fundamentally physical “disease” processes, a real (and, perhaps, genetically caused) “illness,” etc.; indeed, when I hear talk of “curing SZ,” I am inclined to think of those (countless many) whose brains have been turned to scrambled eggs, by the implements of so much psychiatric quackery. IMO, every brain most assuredly takes care of itself, as its owner receives genuinely understanding support and, simultaneously, quite naturally, adopts new thoughts and behaviors; IMO, those who are declared “cured” will face obstacles and detractors (as did you); and, talk of “curing” may play directly into the hands of those who believe, obstinately, that only physicians provide cures and, especially, into the hands of those who embrace and uphold psychiatry’s medical model — e.g., pharma-psychiatrists and the many psychopharmaceutically (always hoping-for-a-cure) bio-psychologists. IMHO, it is better to speak of resolving personal and interpersonal conflicts and of healing (body and mind), through genuinely healthy living. And, finally, the “SZ” label is best shed by deconstruction of the label itself.
That’s all just my opinion, of course.
“resolving personal and interpersonal conflicts and of healing (body and mind), through genuinely healthy living”.
Not even close and generally incorrect.
You have managed to do exactly what you complain about your political enemies doing. You’ve turned a description of a precise extremely positive unique experience into some vague nebulous scrambled eggs.
I would go back to the drawing board and find some way to describe experience and specific events by going towards them and not away from them.
Corleone’s got to come out of that washroom with something more than his hot dog in his hand.
How about a definition that can be a mission statement, a blueprint, something that can be reverse engineered to be actualized?
Probably you need definitions that include all sides in, not exclude them out.
There are no good definitions for this, the language has not been developed yet to match my experience here. I am using neologisms and language to to try to describe actual self-experience and self-knowledge as opposed to many others who are trying to use language to explore something they don’t quite fully understand – if at all they know what they are trying to explain.
In doing so I will use whatever is practical in order to communicate to all concerned and there are levels.
I don’t let any angers or resentments interfere with practical definitions or practical communications There are many levels to this. I have some things I generally keep to myself – people have to develop to a certain level before they can understand them – no point muddying the waters.
Cured is cured. The basketball is through the hoop. Someone wants to argue it was a foul shot or that really isn’t a hoop or that really isn’t success – I don’t care.
“SZ’ definitions have precise list of positive and negative descriptions. I formerly fit all those definitions. In this context I was only incidentally cured of SZ in that definition because in fact my basic condition that produced those symptoms was cured so that just automatically burned away all consequences of it.
For those that don’t know or understand – ALL of those symptoms (listed in Pharma’s guidebook at my local SZ society) were in my case (and I extrapolate to probably all SZ) – are fear driven – such a deep pervasive fear embedded in the entire biological body that is is hard to contact and identify from the outside – (and of course those seeking to control will usually not be seeking to know) but that is what drives the SZ engine in terms of those symptom definitions. And yet, on another life level one can define SZ as an psychological/emotional dysfunction that fallows a particular pattern in the lifelong development of an individual.
And yet even on another level so-called ‘psychotic experience’ I recognize as possibly part of the curative process that prepared me to break through from emotional death to emotional life – the old structure which was extremely rigid- needed to be broken down so that a new structure could emerge.
So I was cured of SZ which cured me. It’s complex.
This whole comment of yours (on July 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm) I like quite a lot.
In various ways, it confirms my overall feelings, from reading it in conjunction with your preceding comments, on this website, that you surely had what I think of as a ‘fundamentally transformative’ breakthrough, resulting from the psychotherapy (“work”), which you experienced in the 70s.
Indeed, from all that you’re saying, I now deeply feel that, *if* anyone ever properly qualified for a “SZ” label, you surely did, prior to that therapy, which you received (back in the 70s).
For all intents and purposes, by this point (from my reading all that you’ve offered, to now, in your MIA comments, of the past day or so), I surmise, that: If *anyone* now writing online (and, commenting on this MIA website) can reasonably and rightly say to himself (or to herself), “I was fully cured of ‘SZ’ — by a uniquely effective sort psychotherapy — thirty-five years ago,” then *you* (skybluesight) are that person.
You can quite reasonably and rightly say that, IMHO.
Meanwhile, also IMHO, for many reasons (some of which I’ve described, in my preceding comments, on this page), I don’t believe it would be quite right for anyone to promise anyone a “cure for ‘SZ'” (this goes back to my earlier comments, on this page); I don’t know if you do offer such promises; but, in any case, you can read my suggested wordings (which you’ve highlighted above) as my suggestions — and *only* suggestions — for what I feel might, IMHO, be *reasonably* offered, by excellent/understanding psychotherapists, to people who’ve been stuck with the ‘SZ’ label.
Perhaps (just maybe), from what I’m saying there (at last, directly above), you can realize, that: From my reading of all that you’ve said (thus far), I don’t have any reason to doubt the great good which was that therapy, which you received back in the 70s; nor, either, do I doubt that, as much as anyone could well qualify for it, you well qualified for the ‘SZ’ label prior to that therapy. Nor do I doubt your claims that, after the therapy, in the eyes of psychiatrists whom you consulted, you no longer qualified in any way whatsoever for that label.
Simply, IMHO, there is some harm that could come, ultimately, in offering ‘cures’ — as many (countless) people, in the past hundred years, since that label was coined, have qualified for that “SZ” label; and, undoubtedly, many of them had very *different* ‘symptoms’ from those which you had; *many* received the label for highly questionable reasons; and, they suffered terrible ‘treatments’ as a result; each of those individuals was, indeed, an individual who could have used more allies, clamoring for justice; IMHO, they could have used allies who would have altogether rejected that label, viewing it (rightly) as a kind of ‘curse,’ that makes one into a pariah (quite as you’ve indicated) ; and, the therapy which *you* received would not necessarily work equally well for all…
People tagged with the ‘SZ’ label are *not* a uniform group, IMHO.
Do you feel otherwise?
I don’t know.
But, you do say,
“SZ’ definitions have precise list of positive and negative descriptions.”
And, I quite disagree.
IMO, there has never been real uniformity, when it comes to “diagnosing” so-called “SZ” worldwide.
Finally, about your saying,
“I don’t let any angers or resentments interfere with practical definitions or practical communications,”
IMO that’s a noble aim — not always possible to achieve, in reality.
Nonetheless, please, understand, I feel not even the least bit of anger toward you (none whatsoever); on the contrary, I find your comments positively stimulating (intellectually); they’ve provided a great boon to the overall conversation here; and, IMHO, though I disagree with you in some ways (minimally), the truth is that largely I am in agreement with your views, and, really, I have found myself disagreeing with *everyone* here, in some ways (at various points); friendly disagreements amongst people who largely agree can be quite healthy; so, thus far, in the main, I am finding myself feeling thankful toward you; you have much wisdom, based on experience, to offer readers on this MIA website.
I am very glad to see you commenting.
[[Personal misrepresentation and attack removed]]
I also miss _Anonymous’ post.
I’ll just, for now, pick out ONE part of what he addressed from Jill’s comment.
“In addressing the question of a biological base, I usually look at the adoption studies, where babies with biological pedigrees for some condition get raised in non-stressful, supportive environments. Then you count the number of now adult adoptees who manifest the phenomenon. There are specifics for most conditions in the DSM.”
I’ll do Jill the favor to assume that “biological pedigrees” isn’t really an attempt to refer to humans as being for sale (using the term pedigree can be seen to relate to monetary value), although there’s a reference to adoptions of said “pedigrees” and how they end up making people possible targets to become consumers of pharmaceuticals for psychiatric medications. How were these people adopted? How were they taken away from their parents and then put in “non-stressful supportive” environments? Were they told that their biological parent had a “pedigree” and how did this effect their outlook on life? Did they experience their parents recieving “psychiatric treatment” that didn’t help, and is this why they were put up for adoption? Were the parents who adopted these children told that their biological parents had a “pedigree” and how much does this effect their response and/or alarm when their child starts having difficulty emotionally? How did the children fare who were put in an environment that doesn’t analyze a person as having a psychiatric illness, when they have difficulty? People who suffer war, poverty and minority status are all more prone to these “pedigrees,” does that make them gene pools for mental illness? If there actually are specifics in the DSM, then why is it that psychiatrists consistently come up with different diagnosis for the same person using these “specifics.”
Since AGAIN someone else’s post has been removed (Richard D Lewis), I’ll try to bring out the gist of what was removed, and was of value.
The following paragraph: “I know that everyone that visits this web-site is well intentioned. I think human support is very important. I wish it could cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species. Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer. I’ll be attending the conference at the Copeland Center in September. I’m hoping to be encouraged by what I see and hear.”
To begin with, Healing Homes of Finland achieves 80 percent healing for people with “schizophrenia” without seeing it as nothing but a biological disease, but offering support. If there was some chemical procedure which caused a reduction in Cancer that achieved the same results, we’d hear about it all over the news, it would be touted as a miracle cure, and highly available. The reason being because it’s a chemical procedure, which can be sold, rather than something as intangible as simply giving a person emotional and personal support. And here Jill is acting as if that doesn’t exist, when it does. She says we have good intentions hopes to be encouraged and says she’ll cheer us if there are good results (as if these don’t already exist ) and then lists “schizophrenia” as something that human support hasn’t been shown to cure (when it has); and this one can only assume is because there hasn’t has been a “chemical process” shown to cure schizophrenia. So we can ignore 80% cure rate, and lump schizophrenia together with diseases that have been shown to have more of a clear physical cause. And act like there’s not cure for it, because Jill’s ideology hasn’t found it, so it can’t exist.
Jill also talks about voices and tries to assimilate a theorem about them. This involves having the compassion to stick probes into animals to measure dopamine output. At the same time there are groups with voice hearers, and many people who have more than compelling stories about how they learned to deal with their voices, and this WASN’T by seeing it as a chemical reaction based on ideology about substance abuse and theories to go along with the current fashion and accepted norm of pills and chemical processes.
What’s clear is that Jill is dismissing more than a few things that aren’t along with her ideology; and ignoring their results, and acting like the results don’t exist; and then presenting a tone of being positive (I hope to see good results, I know you are all well intentioned) while already having shown she’s not really interested in actively acknowledging the results that are already there. For some reason.
To ANYONE who has had to deal with time and again being forced on mind numbing treatments, and or the emergence of voices that go along with such limiting of what’s acknowledged as healing and/or loss of freedom in one’s environment, that can be VERY DISTRESSFUL. To call those voices a chemical process, and concoct theories about it while ignoring methods that already have substance in healing can add to this stress and discomfort! Because it assaults a person with fixated ideas.
And so again it’s not the voice hearer that has a disease. They are sensitive enough to actually hear what’s going on in the background, that there are fixated ideas that others aren’t even aware of. And those that have healed have learned to let go of it. The same a “schizophrenic” experiences and is assaulted with phobias they learn to let go of society doesn’t want to admit are undermining the human condition, the same a depressed person experiences sadness….. and on we go with the rest of the diagnosis which have never been proven to have any truly conclusive physical cause.
One can only hope that Doctor Littrell starts hearing her own voices (which I think thoughts and beliefs are otherwise why would we use our physical voices to express our ideas or anyone even be reading this), rather than repeating the same ideology they clearly are touting over and over again, while dismissing the positive results of what doesn’t fit. But then hearing voices wouldn’t be seen as a biological disease.
Voices are very different than reading, by the way. When you actually hear something, this activates your sense of planning, of movement through time and space. Actually hearing a voice can clearly animate and materialize the thoughts, can expose what might subconsciously be pulling someone’s strings, would they want to know or have experienced enough trauma in their life that they have to find out to move on. That doesn’t mean they have a biological disease, however.
And now I’ve AGAIN spent almost an hour (and by now probably more) trying to make a statement, when what I’m saying is completely backed by statistics, science, methodology and human rights, but this most likely would not be taught in an academic setting, but be dismissed, because it doesn’t go with the fashion that goes with economic trends, isn’t mainstream enough, makes people question their preconceived values and beliefs too much, rocks the boat too much, is too logical and doesn’t conform enough. And thus I’m supposed to think there’s some kind of loss to even see what’s really going on.
“Jill also talks about voices and tries to assimilate a theorem about them. This involves having the compassion to stick probes into animals to measure dopamine output. At the same time there are groups with voice hearers, and many people who have more than compelling stories about how they learned to deal with their voices, and this WASN’T by seeing it as a chemical reaction based on ideology about substance abuse and theories to go along with the current fashion and accepted norm of pills and chemical processes.”
Are you aware of the work of MIA foreign correspondent, Rufus May?
Please forgive me if you’re already well acquainted with his work; but, maybe you’re not; and, in any case, for anyone who may be interested…
Here’s a link to his website, where he offers a paper titled, “Living Mindfully with Voices”:
Maybe you have you seen his film, The Doctor Who Hears Voices.
Here — for anyone who may be interested — is a link to it, on Youtube (in seven parts):
I wonder what Jill Littrell, Ph.D. would say about the work of Rufus May, generally? and about that film of his, in particular? Maybe she can watch it and, afterward, offer her professional opinion…
I’m familiar with the voice dialogue approach Jonah it’s been around for quite some time, [can’t remember the name of the person who originally developed it now], I tried it in the 90’s.
It’s a useful approach and definitely has a place, but I personally couldn’t get on with it, I found it impossible to get my voices to talk to another person on demand, I can’t get them to answer me on demand!
I also believe voice dialogue requires considerable skill and shouldn’t be done by just anyone after a workshop, be that professional, non-professional, or survivor. Like any psychological intervention it has the potential to be controlling, suggestive or damaging in the wrong hands.
Thanks for that feedback, relating your experiences. All you say (on July 3, 2013 at 4:06 am) makes sense to me, and I’m glad you’ve shared, for there is controversy around voice dialogue. Readers who may be interested in learning more about that can find a bit about it on Rufus May’s website, via this link:
I’m glad you posted. It gives me an opportunity to briefly say: my intent was not to promote voice dialogue, just to suggest that, clearly, human support can be healing.
I’m sure the approach works for some people and not for others (as you say, of yourself, it didn’t work for you).
I was only aiming to advance the discussion on this page — by introducing, into this conversation, a blogger connected to MIA, who has a lot of experience working with ‘voice hearers’ — offering human support.
About the woman depicted in his film (“The Doctor Who Hears Voices”): If I had a loved one who was struggling with voices to such a degree that s/he seemed increasingly unable to function (and, perhaps, was seriously contemplating suicide), I might urge him/her in the direction of finding a really good/expert therapist — someone with considerable experience working with ‘voice hearers’ and possessing excellent references.
E.g., if s/he lived in his area, I might recommend attempting to contact Rufus May.
Likewise, I might recommend attempting to contact the MIA blogger, Jacqui Dillon, of Hearing Voices Network.
And, note: There’s a sense that the woman (“Ruth”) in the film is struggling with voices that could possibly convince her to destroy herself. May offers her, in the midst of her apparently deepening crisis, much personal attention — of a kind that even the most excellent of therapists usually would not offer anyone — if for no other reason than that, most would not have the time to offer it.
(Furthermore, most therapists of what I might call “average” capabilities and understanding, would be inclined to view her as ‘suicidal’ and consider sending her — as a seemingly ‘suicidal’ person, a supposed “danger to herself or others” — into a “hospital”.)
One sees, quite often, in film depictions of intensive therapy, an *unrealistic* view, of the sort of attention a client could reasonably expect from a therapist.
The therapist is depicted as really quite excellent and almost unbelievably attentive. IMO, Rufus May be such a therapist, in reality. But, most therapists are not.
In fact, the seeming ‘risk’ that May takes — by keeping “Ruth” out of a ‘hospitalization’ — would be *condemned* (as ‘irresponsible’) by most therapists.
The average therapist is extremely prone to adopting risk-avoidant behavior — when it comes to dealing with a ‘client’ who seemingly ‘might be suicidal’.
This has a lot to do with fear-mongering in the ‘mental health’ field, around the prospect of suicide; but, also, it has to do with the fact that, for practical reasons, they can’t expect themselves to pay such close attention to any one client.
The average therapist will defer to psychiatrists, who’ll provide drugs (and, maybe even ECT/shock-treatment) and “hospital” time.
For so many reasons, I think the best thing for someone struggling with seemingly negative ‘voices’ would be to contact the Hearing Voices Network and begin to build a support system of people who’ve found ways to live creatively with their ‘voices’ — such as (I understand from reading your comments) you have.
After all, regardless of what kind(s) of personal sufferings one faces, to find and develop a really good, working relationship with a therapist is *not* always possible, in the short run.
Locating someone who’s really good in ones own vicinity — and developing a trusting relationship with him/her — can take time.
Many people, in seeking therapy, will never find that sort of therapist; or, they just won’t click with the therapists whom they encounter (for whatever reasons).
I, personally, have found — at various point — that finding a professional helper who can truly see beyond the label(s) that psychiatry slapped on me, decades ago, can be a daunting task.
Most therapists and counselors treat a person with a psychiatric tag, as ‘different’ from others (who are supposedly ‘normal’).
Therefore, I say, regardless of the type of sufferings, finding mutual support (even if it needs be long-distance) from those who’ve shared similar experiences to us and who are now discovering and exploring creative outlets, is really a great way to go…
Therapy is not always necessary (and, sometimes it is detrimental).
P.S. — as I’ve been referring to the work of Rufus May and to voice dialogue, here, to be fair it should be pointed out that he has promoted other methods — under the rubric of “mindfulness” — which I’d guess are considered complimentary. (I.e., dialogue with ‘voices’ may be less necessary, in his view, than careful observation.)
From his website:
“A psychological way of understanding voices is to see them as separated off parts of the person or their emotional experience. Some voices seem to be replaying memories while others seem more sophisticated chunks of consciousness with their own emotions and motivations. Like other parts of the personality, they are shaped by past events. I see these beings as based in separated off parts of consciousness. It appears to me that people who hear voices have an ability to connect with parts of the mind most people can only intuitively sense but not directly hear (except in their dreams).”
“Some voice hearers see their voices as spiritual. There is a psychological approach that can embrace this possibility. The psychologist Karl Jung proposed that the unconscious was linked to the collective unconscious. Jung suggested that in certain dream states and other states of consciousness we can connect to a group consciousness, like a psychic internet. Here we can meet archetypes and experience more fully our interconnectedness. This offers us a view of the unconscious being possibly linked to a spiritual realm. Many voices I have come across and the people that hear them are convinced that their voices are spiritual in nature. I take an agnostic position on this, and therefore endeavour to respect different spiritual understandings. My intention is not to explain all voices psychologically but to help people make peace with their voices so they can get on with their lives. In the west we can get obsessed with trying to explain the origin of phenomena. However a relational approach to voice hearing does not require such explanatory knowledge. In a relational approach it is not so important whether someone’s voices are spiritual beings or psychological parts. What is important, is how we live with and relate to these experiences. I find if we are aggressive towards voices this seems to agitate them. If we find ways to listen to them in a balanced way from a place of strength and grounded awareness they seem to become calmer and more helpful. This gentle style of relating that is promoted by mindful approaches has had some success when applied to to pain management.”
I know you were not promoting voice dialogue but actually I wouldn’t mind if anyone did, it’s a perfectly valid intervention for any voice hearer to try out. As with anything it comes down to personal preference, what suits one doesn’t suit another. I’d happily include sessions on it in a conference, it doesn’t matter that it didn’t rock my boat, I still see the value of it.
The film you refer is another matter, I would be quite critical of how the subject was presented in that [as opposed to being critical of the intervention], I am a voice hearer who has learnt to live with my voices, but my relationship is one of endurance not recovery.
Third time’s the charm, I guess? Thank you for making these points while — mostly — not accusing Jill of saying or believing things that you cannot know for sure. Your points about existing “cures” for “schizophrenia” are spot on and a very useful part of this conversation.
There is still an issue with your characterization of Jill as “dismissing things that don’t fit in her ideology,” which was a similar theme in the two posts I removed. We cannot absolutely know whether an omission is out of dismissiveness, hatred, ignorance, non-chalance, or several other motivations unless we ask someone directly about it. Nothing that Jill wrote explicitly tells me that she is dismissive of other paradigms of understanding voices. Perhaps she is simply particularly focused in her thinking on the biological paradigm. To use an analogy, some people are really amazing technical dancers or musicians, but don’t improvise or perform with others. Some people are really good at fixing cars but mediocre drivers. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, some people are inclined toward a holding a holistic or relational view and others tend toward diving deeply into one narrow way of understanding things. Regardless of whether we ultimately agree with her conclusions, Jill is offering insight into details of brain science that could be interesting and relevant for all of us. It is not necessary that she change her conclusion to match what anyone else believes in order to have a civil dialogue.
Thus, this post could be a tad more polite in expressing some curiosity and asking the question about what she believes rather than asserting that you know why Jill chooses the words she chooses. Truly, we cannot know that.
Thanks for everyone’s contribution here. Remaining polite and supportive of each other is, in my mind, the most important way we can embody a healthy response to the problems with the psychiatric paradigm.
When someone says they wish that support could “cure” “schizophrenia,” includes “schizophrenia,” in a list of proven biological diseases they wish support could cure, while there’s the amount of evidence that support does heal, which is talked about on MIA abundently (80% Healing homes of Finland); and they say that they believe there’s a biological cause for all behavior and all life, I think it’s quite logical to make the assumptions or deductions I’ve made.
This is fine when people have different focuses. But someone who likes to drive cars rather than fix them; to have them driving through a shopping mall is another thing. Focus on a biologic cause for “Schizophrenia” and not acknowledging the methods that have been proven to heal, when the topic is about healing not about the biological method,” this might actually be driving in the wrong area. And the biological focus on schizophrenia correlates with a dramatic increase, with people forced on medications taking away 20 to 25 years of their life, “medications” that suppress self initiative, creativity and self expression, that are highly addictive… and people mostly aren’t allowed to try another method. Jill herself says she doesn’t condone all of that. So why not acknowledge the healing that has occurred when it’s not seen as a biological phenomenon? Why is that relegated to “I wish it could,” and good intentions?
Also, when what heals has been proven to, this deserves attention rather than to hear such remarks lumping schizophrenia with other diseases that have clear biological markers; and then say human support is important and that one wishes it could cure “schizophrenia” when it actually HAS been shown to; that is misrepresentation in itself. I also find it dismissive, for whatever reason. When someone says they believe that all human behavior has a biological cause, has determined that people with “schizophrenia” don’t respond to support because she didn’t experience them responding to her; and in Homes of Finland there’s 80% healing going on because people receive support, but whether support heals is still only expressed as coming from good intentions and one is told they wish it would heal…
And I don’t believe that the people that help create the healing that does occur, I don’t believe they would judge a “schizophrenic” as “not responding to support.
“With regard to all they need is support, people who are acutely schizophrenic usually don’t pay any attention to you, however, supportive you are. They are too distracted by the internal stimuli. Often, they are very scared. When I worked on a receiving unit at the state hospital, one new admission (never had been medicated) kept hitting his head against the wall in an attempt to make the voice go away. I sat down with him and we played a board game, my attempt to distract him. He looked a little less frightened. Another guy was convinced that his brain was infected and worms were coming out of his nose. I don’t have a problem with something being horribly “gone awry” with regard to schizophrenia, although people are only guessing on what it could be. I would not make this case for depression and anxiety-which I regard as just part of being alive.”
The people whose treatment does correlate with 80% healing, they do see schizophrenia as a valid expression of what someone has gone through in life. I think. And NOT seeing it as something “awry” which has gone wrong with the brain (a societal stigma which one could easily see leads to behaviours such as thinking there are worms in one’s brain or banging one’s head on the wall; as if the valid emotions one feels because of trauma, when not acknowledged by society, means their brain is broken); this has proven to lead to 80% healing. I think. As has been mentioned by Duane, people in a coma, although seen as practically brain dead, have shown that they do hear everything that’s going on, those who have come out of the coma. They can tell you what was going on. And again, I don’t believe the people whose treatment corresponds with 80% healing would judge a person as not responding to support. In fact, if they are dealing with internal stimuli, and so involved with these that they aren’t directly responding, this completely doesn’t mean they don’t feel the support. I would think it means they know someone cares, and this would help more than you can know judging them as not responding.
Again, perhaps she hasn’t seen it herself, or doesn’t understand what this even looks like. Someone who spends a long time thinking of everything as a biological phenomena may not have the linguistic or conceptual framework to adequately hold another paradigm. This is not a failure on their part, it’s just how minds work. However, the truth remains that we do not know. Implying that she’s stubborn, or a dunce, or intentionally dismissive is certainly not the way to find out.
To turn this around your own argument, you are judging that it dismissive because you didn’t experience her acknowledging you. In another context where she isn’t being ganged up on by a series of, as deleted comment said, “devastating critiques,” Jill may, for all we know, be much more amiable about discussing alternative paradigms that she’s less familiar with.
All I’m saying, and I’m saying it strongly, is that it’s possible to disagree and offer an alternative paradigm without going extra out of our way to try to make the other person look wrong, stubborn, dismissive, hateful, stupid, ignorant, etc. The fact remains that we do not know what they think and feel beyond the words they choose to use here. As the posting guidelines state, we give everybody the benefit of the doubt, because we believe that’s what allows the most insight and good dialogue to flourish.
Sorry, but this wasn’t about anyone acknowledging me. It’s about the evidence in such programs as Healing Homes of Finland. I wasn’t part of that program. And I’m not really involved with anything that’s measured with such statistics. There’s no conflicts of interest going on. Healing Homes of Finland has shown that support does heal “schizophrenia.”
I certainly wasn’t trying to make anyone look “wrong, stubborn, dismissive, hateful, stupid, ignorant, etc. ” That’s really misrepresenting my intentions. I was simply working with what I believe is logic, and not inhibiting that.
Have a nice day. Be well.
Understood, I was referring more to the comments that were deleted and the process of this dialogue as a whole. Didn’t mean to imply this was your own intention.
OK, thanks. This is where hearing voices/thoughts comes in handy. Reading stuff where your eye can dart back and forth can garble things up a bit.
“I didn’t say that?”
“Well who said that?”
“Who are they referring to?”
I will let up a bit. I did hear a slightly sarcastic voice/thought of my own say “are you through with her?” after going on a bit too much, perhaps. I do feel strongly about these things.
When a person has received a physical wound. Say a cut. They get a scab. That’s a natural thing, although this isn’t normal. At least not too normal. You don’t see everyone walking around with scabs and bruises. That would catch your attention, if they do have these. One could decide there’s a biological cause for this, investigate exactly what goes on with these scabs. How they involve unusual biological processes, what chemistry is involved. How a this is different from a normal person that has no scabs or bruises. This however does nothing to remove a person from the environment, or behavior towards themselves that caused the scabs and bruises.
There’s all this type of focus looking for a physical cause for “schizophrenia,” and yet the people that have recovered so often have valid stories to tell of what was going on emotionally. And being allowed to explore what’s going on there achieves results. And how that achieved results. I also have these “stories” myself, and have had all the symptoms. In fact, I’ve actually been able to talk people out of psychotic episodes recently; because I’ve been through them, and know how to relate. Healing Homes of Finland gets amazing results that are basically quite unheard of. Why don’t we hear about this in the media, rather than umpteen stories of people losing it, needing more treatments; we here that such treatment needs to be more available, and this all mostly being about “biological” treatments which are more expensive and which don’t even correlate statistically with healing. They correlate with more need for “treatment,” and so basically you mostly hear about what hasn’t been shown to help, and thus we are supposed to be more informed and alarmed in order to believe it will help, and all the evidence that it isn’t helping is stuffed in the it’s-a-biological-disease-and-needs treatment, box. Who is making money out of selling these “treatments”? The same, scabs could be made out to be a biological disease. Or being tired. Or being overworked. Or being sad. Or talking back to accepted authorities. Or having different ideas than the norm…. The only difference is that with “mental illnesses,” there isn’t even the biological marker that goes on with scabs. You can biologically determine that someone has a scab. You can’t do this for schizophrenia. You can however allow them to be put in an environment where their emotional wounds have been shown to heal (such as healing homes of Finland).
If there are all these studies in finding out what is “wrong” with someone (biologically and mentally) that has “Schizophrenia,” why aren’t there studies to find out what’s RIGHT with the ones that have recovered. Finding out that someone has too many free radicals etc. when they are having difficulty, doesn’t mean you can dismiss that there are methods not focusing on a biological cause that attend to the person, and thus empower their body to heal what’s going on, the same that a scab forms a protective shield for healing. Allowing someone to explore what’s going on allows such a protective shield, I think. Finding what’s wrong doesn’t mean not seeing what’s right, and not seeing what actually heals.
This data already exists. Bruce Lipton talks about these things; as do many others. There’s enough data that shows what stress does. I don’t even think you would have to measure whether someone in “psychosis,” has too many free radicals, and then see whether that’s different after they received support and come have out of it. I think the evidence of what stress does is already there, and it speaks for itself to begin with. As does the healing support has shown to illicit in “schizophrenics.” But you could do such experiments rather than just focusing on what’s wrong and deciding you need to interfere with natural processes to fix it!
And basically, I find that people who are supposedly “schizophrenic,” have another gear. They have let go of inhibitions that prevented them from going one step further in their thinking. There might be a lot of what seems like utter nonsense going on, but in the midst of all of this seeming clutter there are the links to the new realizations that are trying to emerge. Whether this is symbolic or whether it’s so elusive and quiet that it evades the understanding of most people, or lacks the environment to allow it to come out without being dissected; it’s there. You can find that out by actually talking to schizophrenics. And learning to understand. You learn to understand yourself better, and human nature.
But you have to suspend your judgments about what you believe is sane and what isn’t. Or even what a disease is.
This comment of yours (on July 3, 2013 at 10:58 am) is my favorite comment on this entire page, thus far. It’s such a succinct, complete — and really quite beautiful — essay.
IMO it certainly deserves its own page.
Your writings on the subject of “schizophrenia” will, I hope, someday be edited and organized, to be published in book form.
Meanwhile, for MIA readers who, perhaps, never read it, the following link is to another really amazing, stand-alone essay, posted by Nijinsky, back in January:
One thing that’s really interesting to me, about this comment of yours, above, is how it ends.
You advise, at last, “suspend your judgments about what you believe is sane and what isn’t. Or even what a disease is.”
That’s great advice, I feel, especially to offer people who think that “schizophrenia” is a disease.
Perhaps, the blogger has received such advice, at some time, previously? For, it seems to me that she has done her best to suspend her judgment about what she believes a disease is; that’s why she says, in her latest comment, “Even when looking at cancer cells, it’s pretty hard to establish where the line is and deciding when to call it” and why she says that this word “disease” is,
“…a term that connotes without denoting: who knows what it means. I suggest we, as a class, just talk in terms of processes we can describe. Forget the label.”
Problematically, she nonetheless clings to the “schizophrenia” label, as though it points to a single set of phenomena — and then goes on to describe only certain, highly specific biological processes that she supposes may be responsible for ‘hearing voices’ (based on *much* conjecture); she ultimately concludes, “human support is very important. I wish it could cure cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, schizophrenia, and other distress producers that visit our species…”
So, instead of classifying the collective phenomena that are ostensibly represented by this “schizophrenia” label as reflecting a disease, she’d classify that collection of phenomena as a “distress producer that visits our species” akin to “cancer, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s.”
So, it seems to me that, her insisting disease is “a term that connotes without denoting” and her recommending to her students that, they should “just talk in terms of processes we can describe,” winds up being little more or less than a lead-in to speculations about ‘free radicals’ and potential future breakthroughs in psychopharmacology.
[Note prominently: In her comment to Dr. Steingard, above (on June 29, 2013 at 7:15 pm), she (Jill Littrell, Ph.D.) wrote: “I’m encouraged by the studies with N-acetyl-cysteine. In this months JAMA Psychiatry, there is an article on nitroprusside for reducing symptoms of shizophrenia. Perhaps these interventions are less toxic? I keep hoping.” Unfortunately, I had somehow failed to notice that one comment, when, above, I had called the blogger’s approach “positively pharma-skeptical…”]
Really, now, after a few days’ time — and having gained a better overview, of her blog and comments, as a whole –, I am so glad to have read those last comments by _Anonymous and Richard D. Lewis… and glad to have copied and saved them before they were removed.
Both commenters made a number of great points, at last.
Richard made one very important point that I’m now finding especially unforgettable.
He wrote (on July 2, 2013 at 1:58 am),
Here, next, I share just two very brief (and really straightforward, non-controversial) points, that were offered by _Anonymous (on June 30, 2013 at 11:26 pm):
I would suggest that whatever the blogger is currently inclined to describe as phenomenal effects of “schizophrenia” are going to seem comparable phenomena to those two particular phenomena (a.k.a., two quite deadly, degenerative neurological diseases) mainly because ‘it’ (“schizophrenia”) is so easily perceived as the iatrogenic effects of that traditional, coercive psychiatric ‘medical care,’ which has come to be heaped on millions who’ve been deemed “schizophrenic”.
About her saying, “I think human support is very important” and her adding “Keep working at it. If you can achieve good results, I’ll be the first to cheer,” I am now doing my best to take those lines at face value.
I think probably she says that only because she lacks experience with people who’ve fully overcome a “schizophrenia” so-called “diagnosis”.
Along these lines, I highly encourage her to read your comments and take them to heart…
Jonah, thank you for sharing the beautiful film about the girl hearing voices. http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=5B6D685236A79C41 I think that also speaks to the truth that we are all one. Even the bully that she identified the voice as being in the end, it became her friend. Even though he had apologized to her before the whole catharsis, I think that she took it one step further, and made him part of her; so that she could be there more for others, be more resilient, have a different view, more perspective. I’m not really the one to be interpreting what this voice represented for her, but that’s how it inspires me. A Course in Miracles says that our enemies are our saviors; they are the ones that show us we really can make a choice in how we respond. We can let go of attack thoughts and chose something that’s creative instead. Something that comes from love. And forgive comes from two words. For and Give. When you let go of attack thoughts (in this case learning to understand where the fear came from), you’re not investing in loss; and there’s no depletion of what you give from there. It’s really that simple, I think.
When someone is given directions verbally, this is easier to remember than trying to read them. This is because we process in time better orally. A process that takes time is better understood. So maybe hearing “voices” can facilitate how we navigate through life. Bring to our attention things we might have never seen, as cathartic as they may seem to become, they can change our life.
And thanks so much for reminding me of this little song I put to thought in January. I really needed to be reminded of that, it being prelude to everything I’ve been through since, so I can look back and see that it really was just life. Enlightenment.