The Myth of Schizophrenia as a Progressive Brain Disease


Noted schizophrenia researchers Robin Murray, Robert Zipursky and Thomas Reilly write in Schizophrenia Bulletin that “mental health professionals need to join with patients and their families in understanding that schizophrenia is not a malignant disease that inevitably deteriorates over time but rather one from which most people can achieve a substantial degree of recovery.”

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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. At first glance, this new study in the ‘Schizophrenia Bulletin’ may appear as though positively forward thinking; and, yes, it could be a useful study, to refer to, in combating the myth to which it refers.

    However, it is misleading.

    MIA readers should hopefully realize that its title (“The Myth of Schizophrenia as a Progressive Brain Disease”) is actually reinforcing the ultimate myth of “schizophrenia” — that ‘it’ is a brain disease.

    If we stop to consider it a moment, we can see that this new study’s title is leading readers to presume that ‘schizophrenia’ is a brain disease.

    (Of course, tragically, in most instances, these days, whatever is called “schizophrenia” becomes, demonstrably, an iatrogenic brain disease — caused by the effects of so-called “antipsychotic” drugs, across time.)

    Really, we should realize, this new study’s title begs the question, “Is ‘schizophrenia’ a brain disease?”

    For readers who are, perhaps, interested in a studying a clearly outlined and easy-to-read, comprehensive answer to that question…

    See “Is Schizophrenia Really a Brain Disease?” by MIA ‘foreign correspondent’ Paris Williams, PhD

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    • I totally agree this article is misleading. Simply recovery here is defined as having less symptoms which is achieved by using lobotomizing psych meds.
      This report is pure garage and more Bio-Med Propaganda.
      A “a substantial degree of recovery” is garbage and useless. Here we go again- shuffling our feet massa..

      I was cured – freed – became independent, self-sufficient, emotionally functional and self-responsible. Anything less is not taking a full inheritance as a human being. This is the goal that can be achieved by many and if these “researchers” haven’t achieved it in any way , they are wasting their time on mythology.

      They need to just roll up their sleeves and get to work the real work of facilitating personality change – when you stop the baloney of trying to help people “recover” ie stop their symptoms and start treating them like human beings that follow the universal laws of emotional functioning it becomes obvious what to do for them.

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  2. Paris Williams has got it right. The first psych-trist diagnosis I got pegged with was schizophrenia.I was 16 years old in 1963 when my mother took me to an appointment with the “best” psych-trist she could find the Austrian ,Dr. Pachcovic in Little City Palatine Illinois . My mother begged him for help for me and he told her, “We don’t know what to do about this your son will have to figure it out for himself.” I heard him say it but at the time I didn’t realize he was telling my mother the truth way back in 1963. Of course they immediately started me out on thorazine.By the time I was 56 years old I finally freed myself from their “treatments”. Its all about alternatives ,I know I am one of the uncredentialed , knowledgeable wounded ones with lived experience who can teach individuals how to regain freedom from the medicos and feel alive again. For Real.

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  3. It’s so heart breakingly tragic, the antipsychotics not only CAUSE atrophy of the brain in long run medicated bipolar patients, just as seen in long run medicated schizophrenics. But when given to healthy patients unnecessarily, they CAUSE psychosis within two weeks. The old and new antipsychotics CAUSE psychosis and atrophy of the brain. Please WAKE UP, psychiatrists, and stop harming your patients with your toxic drugs.

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  4. I agree with Someone Else re antipsychotics.

    Schizophrenia may well not be a progressive brain disease (if a disease at all) but treatment as usual for the symptoms of schizophrenia does cause progressive brain problems if not actual diseases.

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