Schizophrenia Neurotoxicity Redux


Researchers in Spain and the U.K. find a similar pattern of brain volume changes in a group 76 controls and 109 patients with schizophrenia diagnose,s in the first three years following the start of antipsychotic treatment. “However,” the study finds, “patients showed a significant lower progressive decrease in the volume of the caudate nucleus than control subjects, with healthy subjects showing a greater reduction than patients during the follow-up period . . . our findings, showing a lack of brain deterioration in a substantial number of individuals, suggest a less pessimistic and more reassuring perception of the illness.”

Abstract →
Roiz-Santiáñez, R., Ayesa-Arriola, R., Tordesillas-Gutiérrez, D., Ortiz-Garcia, F., et al.;
Three-year longitudinal population-based volumetric MRI study in first-episode schizophrenia spectrum patients. Psychological Medicine. DOI:, Published online: 26 September 2013

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


  1. Are the controls and patients all non-smokers, and free from second hand smoke primary environments? What are their TV and radio habits? What are the diets of all 185 people? What are the religious beliefs and practices of all 185 people? And what are their orgasms like, too many? Too few? Solo or partnered?

    “healthy subjects showing a greater reduction than patients”

    Why? How? Is that normal and a lesser reduction abnormal? lol

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  2. This study doesn’t appear to make a good argument if one’s aim to get the psychiatrist to stop harming a loved one and help him/her taper safely off mind numbing toxic medication (when they are court ordered). The treating psychiatrist will be inclined to ask if the patients in this study were compliant or medication ‘naive’. If the patients in this study were all being treated with anti psychotic medication, the psychiatrist will find ample cover in this study by arguing that the favorable lack of brain volume loss was due to the ‘protective’ elements of the anti psychotic medication being administered. Anyone know of a study that could blow holes in the whole neuro-protective theory that is basically providing the rationale for drug maintenance? I am no wonk and I don’t have the advantage of am advanced science degree, but like many other parents in the same boat, we desperately need more evidence to convince my daughter’s psychiatrist to stop harming her with ‘treatment’

    What we need is fewer studies that are open to interpretation; This one could be interpreted to hold up two entirely different courses of action. Where are we on combating this whole neoroprotective argument? Any wonks out there who can help answer this question?

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  3. They would have to do a urinalysis on each person, every day for three years to confirm (scientifically) they are taking the antipsychotic drug.

    I don`t really understand the language of the article. The 76 controls did not have schizophrenia? and they took the antipsychotic drug for three years? Did they stop suddenly the drug? If they tapered , how long vs dose was the taper?

    They would have to find a group of “normal” people willing to take antipsychotics for three years, and compare these brains to regular “normal” brains taking a placebo for three years.

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  4. I agree, it’s a confusing article, did they get “normal” control subjects to actually take antipsychotics for three years? And the article starts out claiming as proven fact that “schizophrenics” have a damaged brain prior to being put on antipsychotics. But psychiatrists, from my understanding, don’t have any tests to prove this. Am I incorrect?

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    • I don’t think it is possible to get “normal” control subjects. Like I wrote, the subjects would have to be tested on a daily basis to see if they are actually taking the drug in question, as it is known the drug has terrible effects on people. I would guess the subject would be doing the drug study for money, and if I were such a person I would cheat if I could (to get out of feeling the horrible effects).
      Maybe those new subcutaneous-injected-long-acting drugs would work on the paid subjects FOR SCIENCE.

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    • mjk,

      Forgive me, your references are beyond my personal scope of expertice. But my experience is that psychiatrists just declare you have bipolar or schizophrenia, and mandate antipsychotics, without first doing any gene disregulation tests – at least in the US. Plus linking something to a disease, doesn’t necessarily prove a causation, I don’t believe. The second article seemed to conclude there were no definitive tests for schizophrenia, also. So I’m still confused as to why this article starts out assuming, as fact, that schizophrenics have abnormal brains prior to antipsychotic use.

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  5. During my College thesis I took 100mg of Ritalin a day, Wound up completing it from a State Hospital in order to Graduate (as you might assume the treatment staff lawyered up, discharged me, and never came to my rescue). I recovered quickly, although, it took atleast a year for my amphetamine psychosis to completely go away (re: negative/passive schitzo symptyomology).
    Apparently I didn’t learn my lesson: ten years later I did the same exact thing in Grad school… it was fun.. I aced my GRE’s.. but wound up having another psychotic break and this time, due to money… I was able to hide my psychosis for a year, until I finally decided the Hallucinations were not conducive to obtaining my M.Ed.
    Recovery was aweful the 2nd time around… definitely took twice as long for all the psychosis to go away.

    So my question about neurotoxicity, is, how messed up am I now?
    Is there a doctor out there willing to work with me to not be a vegetable? I used to be an A/B student… now I find I need to relearn everything… life is short.. I just want a Psychiatrist to give me a little boost, but, be assured, I’ll never take more medication than prescribed. Everyone has their breaking point and drugs can precipitate this onset.

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