In recent months, two teams of researchers in the U.K and the U.S. published complementary findings about the epigenetic origins of schizophrenia that have scientific communities who indulge in ‘genetic conspiracy theories’ abuzz. Both groups claim to have garnered evidence that epigenetic alterations during fetal development are more likely to occur in regions of the genome with sequence variations that have been loosely associated with the probability of being diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the words of Hannon and Spiers, the lead researchers in the UK group:
“[G]enetic variants exhibiting genome-wide significant association with schizophrenia showed a fourfold enrichment amongst fetal brain mQTLs, directly implicating altered gene regulation during fetal brain development in the etiology of the disorder. … [W]e report, to the best of our knowledge, the first systematic analysis of genetically mediated DNA methylation in the developing human brain.” (Italics added).
While these results are intriguing, and no doubt involve pathbreaking research methodologies, this line of thought represents a decontextualized understanding both of the symptoms that are typically associated with schizophrenia, and their cause. I’ll begin with some well-rehearsed issues: 1) the implausibility that schizophrenia, as it is currently diagnosed, is a unitary condition, 2) the lengthy, failed search for the ‘candidate’ gene for schizophrenia, and 3) the vagaries of the Genome Wide Association (GWA) research on which their findings are premised. Genetic theories of schizophrenia disregard large bodies of data from other disciplines such as the impact of prenatal exposures to neurotoxins and stress hormones. As a result, they fail to train a wide angle, multidisciplinary lens on psychological disturbance.
Schizophrenia Is Not a Unitary Condition
The construct of schizophrenia as a discrete illness originated with Kraeplin’s 1899 Classification of Mental Disorders, the conceptual precursor to the DSM, in which he differentiated schizophrenia (then called dementia praecox) from other mental illnesses such as manic depressive insanity (now termed bipolar disorder). The relatively lengthy history of schizophrenia, harkening back to Kraeplin’s nosology, is often cited as evidence that it is, in fact, a bonafide disease. It is ironic that by 1920 Kraepelin himself expressed serious reservations about whether schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were separate entities. In his own words; “It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot distinguish satisfactorily between these two illnesses, and this brings home the suspicion that our formulation of the problem may be incorrect.” But Kraeplin’s reservations are all but forgotten.
With its broad symptom picture which can range from vivid hallucinations, to paranoia, or social withdrawal, and in light of the repeated failure of scores of researchers to find a cohesive cause, it is long past time to suggest, as Kraepelin himself did a century ago, that we may need to abandon the idea that schizophrenia is a discreet illness. This does not negate the fact that most people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia are experiencing considerable psychic distress, and that in some cases, there is a biological dimension to their suffering. But grouping these varied, multi-determined symptoms together and labeling them as an illness with a shared etiology, obstructs our ability to understand and alleviate their suffering.
Thomas Insel, former director of the NIMH, arrived at a similar conclusion in his now infamous ‘director’s blog’ posted on the NIMH website on April 29, 2013. In it, he questioned the validity of DSM diagnoses:
“… Unlike our definitions of ischemic heart disease, lymphoma, or AIDS, the DSM diagnoses are based on a consensus about clusters of clinical symptoms, not any objective laboratory measure. In the rest of medicine, this would be equivalent to creating diagnostic systems based on the nature of chest pain or the quality of fever. Indeed, symptom-based diagnosis, once common in other areas of medicine, has been largely replaced in the past half century as we have understood that symptoms alone rarely indicate the best choice of treatment.”
The Relentless Search For the Genetic Origins of Schizophrenia
In his February 15, 2013 Mad In America blog post, psychologist Jay Joseph persuasively summed up the misbegotten search for the genetic origins of schizophrenia: “Despite the sequencing of the human genome and the publication of more than 1,700 schizophrenia molecular genetic studies, we have witnessed over 40 years of gene finding claims, and over 40 years of subsequently non-replicated findings.” Insel fanned the dying embers of this misbegotten theory in his July 22, 2014, NIMH ‘director’s blog’ in which he waxed enthusiastic about “[a] report in Nature this week from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, a team of investigators in more than 80 institutions across 25 countries … [whose] genome-wide association study revealed 108 different loci where variations were associated with schizophrenia[.]” Insel goes on to explain that “these are not 108 genes for schizophrenia. These are areas of the genome where variations in sequence are associated with schizophrenia. Most of these are not in or even near genes. And any one of these 108 regions contributes only a tiny fraction of risk in the population.” And yet, he does not allow the poor predictive value of these findings about an ill-defined condition to curb his enthusiasm. He concludes that “Nevertheless, this is a major step forward in describing the genetic risk for schizophrenia.” (Italics added) It is on the shoulders of these tepid findings that the latest epigenetic research was built.
How do we make sense of the relentless search for the genetic origins of schizophrenia? Neuropsychologist Richard Francis offers a valuable insight in his 2012 book Epigenetics, How Environment Shapes Our Genes. He traces the history of ‘preformationism’ – an enduring line of thought, spanning millennia, in which our future self already exists in its entirety at conception. As Francis points out, in its latest incarnation “[g]enetic preformationism was successfully packaged through a series of intuitively appealing metaphors[.]” The ‘genetic blueprint’ became the ‘genetic recipe’ which begat the ‘genetic program’, and the ‘executive gene’ became the ‘executive genome’. Francis contrasts this belief system with the ‘epigenetics perspective’ in which:
“… [Y]ou do not exist prior to development, either manifestly or latently. Rather, development is the process whereby you come to exist. Development is not just a matter of unfolding; it is a creative process. This is not to deny that the genes and other biochemicals in the zygote are essential for your development – they most certainly are. But they don’t contribute to your development by being a preformed you. … You couldn’t cook up a single cell, much less a human being, given the instructions in the genetic recipe. Much of what you need to know lies elsewhere.”
And yet, as Francis observes;
“[T]he intuitive appeal of preformationism gives it a whack-a-mole capacity for resurrection. Every time the latest version gets crushed, a new version pops up to replace it. I will call the latest version of preformationism the ‘genetic-epigenetic program.’ The genetic-epigenetic program metaphor acknowledges the central role of epigenetic events in development but views them through a preformationist lens. In essence, the idea is that the epigenetic events described earlier are programmed by the executive genome.” (Italics added)
And this, of course, is precisely what this recent spate of research is claiming: that particular variants in the genome are predisposed to epigenetic alterations which in turn increase the risk for schizophrenia. This perspective once again puts the cart (gene) before the horse (environment). It blatantly ignores existing research on environmental toxins that cause epigenetic changes during fetal and infant brain development. (After all, why hold corporations accountable for getting their poisons out of our biosphere, when they can earn additional billions pursuing high-tech genetic interventions of dubious worth, while polishing their credentials as good corporate citizens?) I will return to this later.
Left Versus Right Brain Models of Mental Health and Illness
It seems so often that we are preaching to the choir. Those of us who read/contribute to Mad In America share a worldview that focuses on the person rather than the disease, that privileges human connection in relieving human suffering, that considers the complexities and vagaries of the human condition. This perspective stands in stark contrast to the language that describes the ‘science of mental illness’ with its narrow focus on disease processes, and its mechanistic computer metaphors with which to describe the workings of the genome, brain and body. In The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Iian McGilchrist offers an insight into this language barrier. The left and right hemispheres of the brain are connected by a band of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. Recent research has revealed that many of these nerve fibers are inhibitory, serving to separate further rather than connect the two hemispheres, and the more we move up the evolutionary ladder, the more they are divided. And so it appears that having two distinct modes of being, carries an evolutionary advantage. Also, both anatomically and functionally, it is the right hemisphere that is designed to play a leading role, as opposed to the more talkative left hemisphere (which houses two language centers).
McGilchrist’s thesis is that the left hemisphere is designed to help us with basic tasks of survival, and as such it focuses narrowly on detail, breaking the world down into component parts and abstracting a mechanistic, disembodied understanding of the world. It offers great clarity and power to manipulate that which is already known, decontextualized, explicit, disembodied, but ultimately lifeless. The left brain is relentlessly optimistic because it refuses to consider that which does not fit with its pre-existing models. It is easy to see the compatibility of left brain modes of thinking with the genetic model of schizophrenia, research be damned. In contrast, the right brain attends to the sweeping panorama of sensory experience, attunes us empathically to others, and is comfortable with novelty, and uncertainty. This describes the mode of attention utilized by therapists who are deeply attuned to their clients, in all of their complexity and uniqueness.
McGilchrist is fond of saying that while ‘the right brain knows that it needs the left brain, the left brain doesn’t know what it doesn’t know.’ By the same token, those of us who practice humanistically oriented ‘right brain’ modes of healing, mustn’t be dismissive of ‘left brain’ science. The brain is an unfathomably complex and delicate, piece of living tissue that can come to harm. Biological understandings of the brain and body are not the enemy of compassion and healing.
While the right hemisphere enables us to love and to experience awe and wonder, it also attunes us to anguish, mourning, and suffering. It is much easier, for example, to be a climate change denier if you choose to ignore right brain consciousness. It can be tempting to forgo joy in order to escape anguish, by escaping into the left brain, with its highly effective defense mechanisms, and our postmodern society makes it increasingly easier to do so. Beginning in infancy, millions of children are already immersed in screen technologies, circumventing the messiness and unpredictability of the living world. There was a time when there were natural brakes on our capacity to escape from living in the moment, but technologies increasingly make it feasible to dwell in virtual worlds that place no limits on our flight from reality.
Right Brain Deficiencies, Epigenetics, and Human Suffering
While DSM driven diagnostic categories are reductionistic and mechanistic, we cannot deny the explosion in the number of children and adults suffering from symptoms associated with schizophrenia, as well as autism, learning disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, etc. And just as it is simplistic and dangerous to dwell exclusively in left hemisphere models of mental illness, it is also misguided to deny research that treats the brain as a living organ that can come to physical harm, and that demonstrates that the genome, the microbiome, and the brain, are vulnerable to environmental influence.
McGilchrist believes that the growing epidemic of psychiatric conditions can be tied to right brain deficiencies. For example, symptoms of depersonalization and derealization that lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, are also typical of people who have suffered massive strokes or damage to the right hemisphere. Decades ago, Erich Fromm coined the phrase ‘escape from freedom’; the idea that the freedom that human consciousness confers can at times be terrifying. McGilchrist suggests that we are now fleeing from right hemisphere consciousness, into the soothing straightjacket of left hemisphere certainty. Additionally, the right hemisphere ‘comes online’ well before the left hemisphere, during prenatal and infant development, when brain development is at its most rapid and vulnerable to injury. And right hemisphere development has been rendered all the more precarious because of the tens of thousands of industrial toxins we have introduced into the biosphere, 1,000 of which have been identified as neurotoxins by leading environmental health researchers Philip Landrigan and Phillipe Grandjean. Several of these neurotoxins impact prenatal brain development epigenetically.
And so this takes us full circle to the latest epigenetic research on schizophrenia, but with emphasis on environmental causes that are well understood, and for which we have the means (but apparently not the will) to address, as opposed to genomic variants that have little if any specificity to symptoms somewhat arbitrarily bundled into the label of schizophrenia.
 Hannon, E., Spiers, H., Viana, J., Pidsley, R., Burrage, J., Murphy, T. M., … & Bray, N. J. (2016). Methylation QTLs in the developing brain and their enrichment in schizophrenia risk loci. Nature neuroscience, 19(1), 48-54.
 Jaffe, A. E., Gao, Y., Deep-Soboslay, A., Tao, R., Hyde, T. M., Weinberger, D. R., & Kleinman, J. E. (2015). Mapping DNA methylation across development, genotype and schizophrenia in the human frontal cortex. Nature neuroscience. (Full text online)
 After some resistance, even the most conservative of thinkers have adopted an epigenetic as opposed to a genetic lens through which to understand genetic influence. Epigenetics refers to alterations in regions of the genome – often through methylation – which upregulate or downregulate genetic activity.
mQTLs or methylation quantitative trait loci – refer to epigenetic alterations of a specific region of the genome.
Here’s a better approach: Abolish schizophrenia. Jim Van Os gives a good blueprint here:
Schizophrenia can and should be replaced by the concept of active or latent psychotic experience existing on a continuum with more adaptive “normal” functioning. In this uncertain model based on dimensions or continuums of experience, the research in the article above doesn’t make sense, since human suffering is not a discrete disease.
Furthermore, we already know quite well how to help psychotic people recover to lead good lives working, loving, and contributing to their communities, as demonstrated in the following research:
Benedetti and Furlan’s study of 50 people given an average of 5 years’ psychotherapy for psychosis, the 388 Quebec program’s outcomes for psychotic clients treated intensively over the last 33 years, Gottdiener’s metanalysis of psychotherapy for psychosis covering 2600 clients given an average of 1.5 years of therapy, the Open Dialogue’s 3 papers on 2 year and 5 year studies of family therapy for psychosis, the Soteria program’s 2-year results with young psychotic people, Bert Karon’s Michigan Psychotherapy project, Barbro Sandin’s 6 year study of intensive psychotherapy for psychotic clients, Lewis Madrona’s long-term outcome study of 51 clients given psychotherapy for psychosis, and even the recent PREP, EASA, and RAISE studies of early intervention which include a significant psychotherapeutic component.
We are not getting a great return on biological/genetic research into psychosis and are unlikely to, since it is not the level at which answers to severe problems of emotional development are likely to be found. It’s like examining the individual grains of sand on a beach to try to figure out why people enjoy going to the beach.
Lastly, it should be spelled out what the primary motivations for biological research into schizophrenia are:
“1) To expand the antipsychotics market and profits for drug companies despite the lack of evidence of any long-term benefit of using antipsychotics, as revealed in the latest meta-analysis of this issue which was recently discussed.
2) To expand the client base and maintain income for psychiatrists who can earn $180,000 on average a year by mostly prescribing pills which have no evidence of long-term efficacy, while doing very little depth psychotherapy and thus comfortably avoiding/drugging the rage and terror of their clients.
3) To create the illusion that researchers such as the ones authoring the article you shared are studying valid “diseases” (e.g. “schizophrenia”) and therefore to legitimize psychiatry as a real medical discipline, which it is not.
Maybe 1% of the motivation for this research is to help vulnerable suffering people.
“….We are not getting a great return on biological/genetic research into psychosis and …”
This must be the understatement of the year.
The only Genuine Longterm Recovery that I’ve ever heard of, has been as a result of not using the Biological/Genetic Approach.
That is true. I should have said the return on biological/genetic research absolutely sucks. Or that it simply increases stigma and otherization of what are normal reactions to abnormal situations.
No, You said it brilliantly. I agree with you about the removal of “schizophrenia” as well – because the longterm ‘problems’ are caused by the treatments and neglect; and people recover all the time.
Schizophrenia would be abolished if it were not such a profitable lie (the notion that a discrete brain disease called schizophrenia exists being the lie). Telling people this lie is a large part of what legitimizes and enables the continued prescribing and selling of antipsychotics, the most profitable class of drugs with about 20 billion dollars in sales last year. Furthermore, it enables psychiatrists and some families to avoid dealing with difficult emotional issues in those falsely labeled schizophrenic, by deluding themselves that the person has a brain disease. Thus it has several functions, none of them really good. The research in the article above should be seen as a front for the real functions of “schizophrenia”.
Even the description itself ‘finishes’ a person off. You’re right about the free money as well.
With me Recovery was a straightforward CBT or Buddhism or Twelve Step Solution, which worked very well and cost the UK National Health Service very little.
(..and careful drug taper)
Dr Olfman, Thank you very much for your interesting Article,
I believe theres a theory that says under stress outlook is limited and this is why anxiety can fulfill itself through its own logic (because when stressed the mind doesn’t have access to ‘higher reasoning’).
Extreme anxiety can be classed as psychosis. So “Schizophrenia” might be an extension of looking at the world the wrong (left brain) way to begin with.
The Mental Health System provides good examples of commonplace illogical reasoning:
In 2012 a doctor told me that once someone has a diagnosis of ‘mental illness’ then they must remain mentally ill for the rest of their lives especially if they take medication. I told the doctor that the prescribed medication 25mg Seroquel at night was not prescriptive for any ‘mental illness’ whatsoever, due to its pharmacology. The Doctor told me they understood this, but that it still had the name of a Mental Illness medication so that still counted.
I found the solutions to my ‘High Anxiety’ (Neuroleptic withdrawal syndrome) through letting my fear pan out before I looked at ‘problems’. But once I was calm problems didn’t seem like much anyway.
So much of what you write resonates with our situation. I agree wholeheartedly that … ” when stressed the mind doesn’t have access to ‘higher reasoning’” … and thus that …”Extreme anxiety can be classed as psychosis’… (and as ‘catatonia’). By any chance are you going to, or have you already written a ‘personal story of your journey through and out of the Mental Health System?
…The illogical reasoning some doctors use is truly incredible….. I am keeping a list that I will post someday. Here is an example – one doctor said after my loved one got much. much worse IN the hospital… “your child does NOT have depression…..but IF your child DOES have depression it started before your child came into the hospital” (how is that for covering one’s ‘behind’ LOL) .
Sa, thanks a lot for your identification.
No, I haven’t written a personal account, my desire to remain anonymous is one reason for this.
My main point is that its possible to recover from ‘severe diagnoses’ through fairly basic psychotherapy and to remain well; and that the drugs and making a big deal out of ‘illness’ are the real problem.
I was ‘care in the community’ in Ireland for about 4 years until I stopped taking my (depot injection) medication and moved to the ‘Talking Treatments’. I had asked for the Talking Treatments at the very beginning but I was not allowed this option.
I also see the biological ‘mental health’ system as parasitic.
I commiserate with your experiences, it must have been very difficult to deal with the ‘Mental Health’ System as a novice. It’s normal to trust doctors but in ‘Mental Health’ we can’t afford to.
I will be seeking your book “Drugging Our Children” even though I am coming to this movement to end psychiatric/pharma corruption from the perspective of the mother of a young adult child, not a minor. (Most books about drugging children are tantalizing to parents of adult psychiatric survivors until the parent realizes that nearly every book and/or conversation about drugging children involves kids 18 years or under). But your tie-in to schizophrenia and, genetic research/left-right brain differences makes your knowledge about drugging children relevant to psychiatric survivors of all ages as well as their family members and gives a marvelous springboard to reset the dialogue about the importance of what kind of avenues of mental health research are most promising and how to get them funded.
This was an excellent article describing the difference between the left and right brain hemispheres. I got a lot out of it. We need more information like this for lay people and parents. One of the way that psychiatrists bamboozle parents like me into labeling and drugging our children without first seeking less harmful alternative ways to deal with behavior issues, is because they speak ‘scientifically’ from the left hemisphere with such certainty about our children and their certainty, is itself, comforting for parents in distress, and I would even venture, this certainty itself has a placebo effect in conjunction with pills that can get a disturbed family unit down the road a couple of miles in terms of functionality and stability.
But then, the day of reckoning comes; when families wake up to the cyclical and chronic nature of iatrogenic harm. Then, if a family member’s distress has been compounded by iatrogenic harm, they must research on their own for remedies for iatrogenic/therapeutic harm, even as they deal with playing sleuth for the original harm/trauma, all the while leaning two new languages simultaneously. They go out and hunt for alternative models of healing and recovery, learning the language of recovery. Then, they must become fluent in the old, dying language of psychiatry in order to help a loved one avoid further harm, even if the parent-child bond has been harmed because the parent was the one who brokered a relationship, so to speak, between the child and the psychiatric system. In other words, the parent is desperately trying to learn and apply a recovery model of care to one’s family by seeking information from the diagnosed one without being intrusive to her privacy or have her disclose information at a faster rate than she wants, while being her memory keeper and feeding her very real feedback about iatrogenic harm while trying to avoid carefully invalidating her progress, even if one is suspicious that the progress may be largely fictitious advances that patients are apt to make when they get sick of being hospitalized enough that they force themselves to parrot back information that therapists/psychiatrists want to hear or or modify their behavior enough to get a free pass outdoors. Many of us parents know the different between superficial change and deep change in our children, but because many of us are leary of the mental health system we often triangulate with our children and shield workers/providers in the system from certain information about our children’s ‘negative’ behavior’ so as to avoid having them be harmed even more by the system.
Many of us parents are intimidated by the glamour of people in white coats who are highly educated.
Once, one gains knowledge into the tenuous scientific foundations upon which psychiatry and all of its human rights violations are built, one realizes that one must become confident and proficient in psycho babble and psychiatric pdeudo science to present a counter argument to the labeling and forced drugging/institutionalization of a beloved adult child. Not only that, but one must learn to deal with some of the most arrogant people imaginable, individuals who are medical school graduates and board certified psychiatrists who have their own axe to grind since the scientific merit of their profession is being criticized by ever greater numbers of people from a variety of professions, therefore they take it out on parents who criticize a loved one’s treatment plan, even if that parent doesn’t give a whit about politics and the outcome of psychiatry, only in better outcomes for their loved ones.
In my voyage in learning to talk back to psychiatrists and mental health care workers, I have found that there is a great need there is for plain talk from people who are highly educated as it concerns the human brain, human development, etc. NAMI is currently not filling that void for parents and their leadership tends to come from parents not from therapists. The information that NAMI spoon feeds to its members is woefully inadequate and the voices of the consumers, all but those who are NOT critical of psychiatry are woefully absent.
Critical voices such at yours should be heard at the highest levels including policy and law making levels, but most of all, at the grassroots level as it concerns parent education. Thanks for contributing this article !
You might want to look for my edited book Science and Pseudoscience of Children’s Mental Health which would have more information specific to your interests.
Thank you for the reminder that our brains are both biological and a result of environmental nurturing and/or trauma. As I’ve shared on this site, I am convinced that one of my sons suffered neurological damage, later labelled autism and learning disabilities, as a result of the Phenergan I took for 5 months during my pregnancy with him for severe morning sickness. We need to remember the neurological harm from prescribed drugs and environmental toxins that may be a big cause of autism and many other problems in developing babies. We need to study environmental toxins as well as the deprivation, trauma and abuse that can also cause mental anguish and mental health conditions. Our biology and our experiences interact from day one throughout our lives.
Hi Dr. Olfman, I was glad you put in the strongest voices right off the bat. Jay Joseph really gets the point of the wilful unreason connected to the built-in gene-to-mental-defect route to the diagnostic guarantee of eternity in forced treatment options for schizophrenic-labelled “others”. Dr. Wilson’s words are revealing as well. The problem with the logic is plain as day from these two pioneers: you can’t mince your words about genetic misfortune, in order to promise ahead of real world evidence, that behavioral dysfunction means that your gene theory rules out the positive opportunities of capable nurturing and socialization efforts for anyone. You can’t, therefore, legitimately and humanely suggest that some genetic marker for “mental illness” renders appeals to the importance of post-natal development meaningless, tout court.
But then it’s too bad that McGilchrist musses up the popularization of brain research with the ill-predicated materialist despcription of brains that think and know, the mainstay in misguided “naturalism” these days toward the paternalistic, socialistic one-size fits all toning down of the problem with psychiatric oppression outright. Although he might not be out to get us one by one, many neuro- and psychologists standing patiently between us as individuals who need empowered and the golden-egg tenures and extrajudicial authority that we need completely discredited, will use this mistaken logic to excuse “error and excess” as they surely hope to do. This sort of malfeasance is as backwards as McGilchrist’s seemingly enlightened language, which definitely helps it along.
Then, too, it’s too bad again that we still have to rely on the insouciant adhesion of neo-Freudians like Fromm, outdated as he is as well…another throwback to the Harry Stack Sullivan and then ludicrously inauthentic Robert Cole days of the championing of all means of squelching the debate over the decripitude and malfeasance of the institutional and AMA/APA/APA bureacratized “final solutions”. If the dangerous possibility of censuring the establishment types for blaming the victim and padding their budgets with auto-pay customers all the while came up, that was the fine chance to publish their next neat title. Good critical theorist Herbert Marcuse really helped us look again at the viability of the talking cure in more mature terms, you know? He decried the sentimentality of these very follow the leader types.
Thanks for all the work you put into your interpretation, however. I very much appreciate that you keep yourself available for survivors, here on MIA. Hopefully, some more of the networking will gain traction here that goes with careproviders who are willing to distinguish matter of factly between two very different sets of needs and purposes: social engineering in response to malingering and moral mischief, and literal suppression of the awareness due the name Patient Advocacy. That would certainly help the inegalitarian mindset to die off, which would be great if it happened to get us all past ruminating unsystematically on past master “reformers”, with their heydays and miraculous espousals, that never were really anything more than shots at halfway truthful, not exactly cutting edge advocacy. Are you planning to speak at any of the year’s upcoming service-provider or gov/NGO conventions?
Dr. O., I was trying to warm to “the whole point of surviving”, and hadn’t gotten totally up to the point of where my thinking began and my emotions ended in this wordy rejoinder. I mean what it says, but hadn’t gotten a grip yet for the day…. Oh well. I appreciate that you reply above recommending your interesting sounding book. My point right here is just that my need isn’t tremendous or burdensome to me at the moment, and getting into the history and some points on method in neuroscience was what led me to try concentrating on my reaction to your well worded piece. That had actually been my ulterior motive…, so be sure to have a good day!
Well stated travailler-vous! I like comments!
Thank you for the article, Dr. Olfman. I definitely agree, we are currently living in a way too left brain only world, which is blinded to its flaws. But that comes from one who is an artist, thus one who regularly utilizes my right brain (although I also have a business degree and have been a medical researcher for eleven years now, so I also have a pretty well developed left brain, too.) And I will say, I did find left brain only thinking psychiatrists to assume that if one utilizes their right brain, that this means they are incapable of also utilizing their left brain, which you point out is not how the brain works. “McGilchrist is fond of saying that while ‘the right brain knows that it needs the left brain, the left brain doesn’t know what it doesn’t know.’” Thank you.
As an artist, I visualize this disconnect in ways of thinking / perceiving between the left vs. right brain as being similar to the following. If you graph the Fibonacci numbers, and connect the dots, you may end up with a bunch of boxes. This, is similar to left brain thinking, and even the DSM categories mentality. But, one capable of utilizing their right brain also, is capable of connecting the dots differently, creating a beautiful spiral.
Two different ways, to connect the same dots. Which is a more valid way of seeing the world? Which world view results in the more beautiful image? It is my contention that it is important to trust in both the left and right, the seen and unseen, the physically reasoned and intuitive. This, of course, is largely the opposite of today’s bio-psychiatric theology. No doubt, I believe, because they wish to hide the reality of their iatrogenic harm of patients, for as long as possible.
And, as one also capable of utilizing my left brain, I would like to point out that Read’s research does point out that 2/3’s of all so called “schizophrenics” today are child abuse or ACEs victims. And that 77% of children admitted to a hospital with symptoms of child abuse are diagnosed as “psychotic,” whereas only 10% of non-abused children receive a “psychosis” diagnosis.
And that the “gold standard” treatment for “psychosis,” the neuroleptic drugs, can create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia,” all by themselves.
“Neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome is principally characterized by the same symptoms that constitute the negative symptoms of schizophrenia—emotional blunting, apathy, hypobulia, difficulty in thinking, difficulty or total inability in concentrating, attention deficits, and desocialization. This can easily lead to misdiagnosis and mistreatment. Instead of decreasing the antipsychotic, the doctor may increase their dose to try to ‘improve’ what he perceives to be negative symptoms of schizophrenia, rather than antipsychotic side effects.”
And these are the central symptoms of neuroleptic induced anticholinergic intoxication syndrome. “Central symptoms may include memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, hallucinations, psychosis, delirium, hyperactivity, twitching or jerking movements, stereotypy, and seizures.” Symptoms doctors are incapable of distinguishing from the positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” My psychiatrist called these neuroleptic and poly pharmacy induced symptoms “the classic symptoms of schizophrenia” in his medical records. And the drugs known to created anticholinergic toxidrome “include the four ‘anti’s of antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and antiparkinsonian drugs as well as atropine, benztropine, datura, and scopolamine.”
Personally, it is my theory the number one etiology of “schizophrenia” today is likely doctors misdiagnosing child abuse or ACEs sufferers as “psychotic.” And then profiting off of creating both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia,” with the neuroleptics, in child abuse survivors. Although, no doubt, the psychiatric industry would want to cover up this ugly potential reality for as long as possible.
Maybe you should go to a Schizophrenics Anonymous meeting in one of our big cities- New York should be a good one and there should be open meetings you can attend if you aren’t schizophrenic. They don’t last long if there isn’t appropriate biological treatment available (and I’m NOT talking about prolonged stays in the tranquilizer twilight zone). Ask the members themselves.
I have been consciously using my left hand for all activities for about 14 years now. It feels good to use it and it helps me with anxiety and depression. I love art and music, yoga which also cultivate whole brain. For me it makes me feel more conscious and fully occupying of my own body and in control of my own actions, more rooted and centered.
Your account of the psychiatric system viewed from the perspective of a parent attempting to rescue a beloved offspring from that system is damn near perfect.