APA: Drop the Stigmatizing Term “Schizophrenia”

Brian Koehler, PhD
53
3799

For 40 years as a practicing psychotherapist in hospital (state and city), outpatient and private practice settings, I have seen the heavy and cruel burden placed upon countless human beings by being diagnosed with the term “schizophrenia.” For many, it was a traumatic social process they were subjected to. I know that many of the people who did this diagnosing were just acting out of the impoverished training they had received in medical school, residencies, internships, and clinical placements. Much of their received trainings have been shaped by economic and political influences of the pharmaceutical companies. Scientific red flags were ignored, e.g., trans-diagnostic genetic and neurobiological findings; multiplicity of etiologies, courses and outcomes; the diagnostic over-representation of African Americans and Latinos; the increase in diagnoses in urban settings and migration; and the far better recoveries in so-called “developing nations” compared to “developed nations” as documented consistently in the WHO studies.

Often students are taught early on in their careers that people diagnosed with “schizophrenia” do not recover, may be violent, and are not helped by speaking with them about their “psychotic” experiences. They are told they have a “biogenetic brain disease.” None of these are truly borne out by research or ongoing in-depth clinical immersion experiences. In 1997, at an ISPS conference in London, I presented a paper which detailed the large overlap in neuroscience findings between so-called “schizophrenia” and chronic stress, childhood maltreatment (including peer bullying), social isolation and defeat, and I would now add the detrimental effects of stigmatization.

More recently, the New York Times published a front page article claiming that researchers have identified a gene for “schizophrenia,” the C4 complement gene. I immediately sent a letter to the editor complete with key research papers documenting that this finding was also observed in chronic stress. The letter was never published. Current research documents hundreds (if not a thousand) of putative risk genes thought to be of low effects and spread through the entire population. There is a striking gap between the imprecise family and twin studies which report a heritability of 80%, erroneously leading the public to think the “syndrome” (DSM categories are not “diseases” or “illnesses,” they are “disorders”) is 20% environmental and 80% genetic. The findings in epigenetic research in which adverse social experiences are associated with epigenetic changes to gene expression as well as the intriguing findings of molecular biological studies, like GWAS (which has its own limitations), certainly challenge the prevailing geocentric views. The genetic signals tend to be weak in GWAS (as is found in GWAS studies of bipolar disorder as well) and this is in striking contrast to the family studies. This has led geneticists to speak of the “heritability gap” between the family and molecular biological studies.

My own view is that epigenetic changes, which are potentially reversible and transmitted across generations, play a significant role. These changes may be the link between social and psychological experiences and biological findings.

I have been a past president of ISPS-US for two terms, an executive board member of ISPS (an affiliate of the World Psychiatric Association) for two terms, and chair of the New York City ISPS-US Branch that has been meeting for 25 years. I was very pleased to have participated in the debates in Europe to drop the term “schizophrenia” in ISPS—we still have a long way to go with this. I also teach graduate and doctoral students at NYU, CUNY and Columbia University. I have learned a great deal from my students during these years, and feel a strong sense of responsibility to keep up with the latest research across disciplines in order not to be teaching misinformation or theories as facts. Science is a way to make sure we don’t fool ourselves or others. There is a great deal of uncertainty in our field and we should not act like we know when we do not. The laws of biology and medicine are imprecise, messy, uncertain. I have heard way too many times from students all of the myths articulated above, especially the myth of nonrecoverability and dangerousness. It is almost as if these myths are hard-wired into the diagnosis itself.

The following terms have been dropped from DSM and/or our language about “mental health issues”: neurotic, homosexuality, imbecile, retarded, mental deficiency, mental retardation, Asperger’s, simple schizophrenia, hebephrenia, etc. Isn’t it time to drop the highly stigmatizing term “schizophrenia”? In the public’s psyche the term “schizophrenia” embodies the concepts of dangerousness and non-recoverability (if someone recovers, the diagnosis itself is thought to be retrospectively incorrect). This term can be traumatic for many who have to bear it. It may increase the person’s sense of being damaged, socially isolated, feared and rejected, etc. There is even research showing that a biological conception of etiology increases stigmatization. Many clinicians incorrectly and unethically write off these persons as being beyond psychotherapeutic help.

No wonder many people “deny” they have such a diagnosis—wouldn’t many of us do the same if it increases one’s sense of social isolation, “badness,” despair, terror, helplessness, loss of control, stigma and social rejection/defeat? These psychosocial processes may have contributed to the very origins of “symptom” formation in the first place.

It is for these and many other reasons that I believe that the American Psychiatric Association and the WHO (for ICD-11) should follow the lead of several countries that have already retired the term “schizophrenia” from their vocabularies. And so I have created a petition on change.org to that effect—please sign and share with your social networks if you agree:

Petition to the APA and the WHO: Drop the Stigmatizing Term “Schizophrenia”

The full text of the petition:

The term “schizophrenia” has become synonymous with dangerousness even though it is a very small minority of persons with this diagnosis who violently hurt others and this may be explained better by the following factors: male gender, young adulthood, misuse of substances, homelessness, having been exposed to violence, sense of powerlessness, helplessness, stigma, etc. The term is also associated with non-recoverability. Dangerousness and non-recoverability seem to be hard-wired into the diagnosis. The term encompasses a heterogeneous group of people with different symptoms, etiologies, course and outcomes. It is a static, traumatizing and stigmatizing term for those persons given it. It often takes away hope and a sense of agency because people are told that they have a genetic brain disease. Hope, ongoing social and peer support, and a sense of agency and self-efficacy are needed to facilitate recovery. Nine world outcome studies and the World Health Organization studies on “schizophrenia” demonstrate substantial recoveries. People have a better chance of recovery when given good care that is acceptable to them. Perhaps, many of the neurobiological findings in “schizophrenia,” which are often non-specific and can not be used for diagnosis, could be better explained to be the result of chronic stress, relational and social traumas, social isolation/exclusion, social defeat, economic adversities, low self-esteem, stigma, prenatal stress, migration (particularly from a non-white to a white environment), urban birth/living, low impact SNPs & CNVs (single nucleotide polymorphisms and copy number variants), epigenetic changes to gene expression, the effects of first and second generation antipsychotics (e.g., the Iowa Longitudinal Study), etc. African Americans are about 3-fold more likely than whites to be diagnosed with “schizophrenia.” Social adversity can become biologically embedded and result in epigenetic changes to gene expression, which may be potentially transmitted across generations. Japan (integration disorder), Hong Kong and Taiwan (cognitive-perceptual dysregulation/dysfunction) and South Korea (attunement disorder) have dropped the term “schizophrenia” from their psychiatric nosology. Surveys in Japan have shown that service recipients and professionals alike are pleased with the change. Prominent psychiatrists such as Robin Murray in the UK and Jim van Os in The Netherlands have presented strong and convincing arguments as to why this term should be dropped. The editor of the prestigious journal Schizophrenia Bulletin has also recently wondered whether the term should be replaced. I believe the time is now to drop this stigmatizing, hope-disabling, scientifically controversial term which is saturated with various myths about non-recoverability and dangerousness.

53 COMMENTS

  1. The staff of the Long Island Mental Health center refers to “schizophrenia” as Metabolic Dysperception. They’ve done so for about 50 years. They also use vitamins, diet and other nutrients to treat their patients, so I doubt if Big Time Psychiatry will pay any attention.

    • The authors ignorance is astounding!!! I have schzioaffective disorder, and the problems only stopped with the correct PILL!! I was prescribe Triavil, and my severe depression and suicidal thinking along with the tactile hallucination I was having stopped. No amount of so-called psychotherapy would do any good. Fortunately, the first psychiatrist I saw recognized my problem and what meds to prescribe, or else, I would probably be dead now. The author obviously has never experienced mental health problems.
      This is the statement is what I am referring to:
      “They are told they have a “biogenetic brain disease.” None of these are truly borne out by research or ongoing in-depth clinical immersion experiences.”

      Yes, schziopherinia is a biogenetic brain disease. I am a perfect example of it. I don’t care if the term schzio is dropped or not, but portions of the authors statements are totally incorrect.

      • My husband has a schizophrenia diagnosis. The “correct” pill stopped a lot of things. It blocked the delusions, but it also blocked his ability to express his emotions. It blocked his power of imagination from operating (which, of course, is why the delusions disappeared). So if you like you can call it a cure. Let’s just say it wasn’t great for our marriage, or for his life in general. Thank God he has learned to live without “medication” and without delusions too. There are other, much better ways – without side effects. I hope that you find them too.

        • I’m sorry for your husbands problems. Consider that its possible he has been misdiagnosed. I was misdiagnosed for 4 months until I went to a good shrink who knew what he was doing.

          Yes, there are negative side effects. Most of the time, I appear quite normal to other people and they think there nothing is wrong with me. Without the proper medicine, as I said before, I would probably be dead years ago.

          Just to ad. I have been to multiple psychiatrists, and have not always been diagnosed the same way. There is much MD’s don’t now about mental illness. With the availability of the internet, some patients actually know more about their problem than their doctors know.

          • Yes, absolutely he was misdiagnosed. But I wouldn’t expect any type of doctor to diagnose him with “acute and/or chronic emotional distress resulting from trauma and the belief that he is incapable of coping with the stresses of his life.” Nor would I expect any type of pill to be able to solve such problems. If what he was looking for was oblivion, then I would advise alcohol any day over zyprexa! But no MD or PhD would likely concur…

          • No, pretty much the same it sounds like. He also had quite a few psychotic episodes. Of course docs said it’s “the illness.” I’m so glad you’re doing well. Thinking straight – well, that’s something most people don’t ever achieve…

      • Medicine is for legitimate disease. You take a drug that damages the higher brain functions, where a persons subconscious mind lives. Bad thoughts and bad feelings used to be attributed to sins, as in the choice to think bad thoughts of suicide. If you don’t control your thoughts who does?

        You obviously have never experienced torture from mental health professionals, like I have for the fictional illness of “schizophrenia”.

        Have you been tied to a gurney? Been poisoned to feel an insatiable thirst, then been denied water for your third? Jailed without trial on the presumption of guilt of future crime?

        schizophrenia is an iatrogenic illness. I am a perfect example of it.

        Brainwashing is what happens when they first hospitalize/jail the mentally ill patient, for the several months of ” treatment”.
        When given the stigma of a “serious mental illness” hope is lost. With no hope the person does not look after themselves for a potential mate ( wife/husband) and the psychiatric drugs make and keep the ” patient” stupid. Stupid enough to follow orders.

        • My experience is that “it” is an iatrogenic disease. It is accepted that 25% of people initially diagnosed can make recovery.

          But I was ultimately diagnosed as being chronically mentally ill and without hope – and then i recovered as a result of (carefully) not taking my “medication” and moving to psychotherapy. My worst prognosis was at my last hospitalization of April 1984 – and then came long term Recovery.

          I can explain how my Psychotherapy worked as well:- when I withdrew from the drugs I started to experience overehelming anxiety. This anxiety was so overwhelming that I could recognize it as “Anxiety” and to learn how to deal with it. Once I learned how to effectively “detach” then there was no anxiety.

          I still use the same tools today to remain calm.

      • You don’t need labels to consume pills. You are free to consume as much Triavil as you want, if it makes you feel better.

        Maybe what YOU have (which your shrink has labelled as “schizoaffective disorder”) is a bio-genetic brain disease. Don’t drag everyone else into it.

        Also, the author may not have an MD. But that does not matter. A lot of the problems that psychiatry subsumes under its banner have nothing to do with medicine.

        Also, naturally you would have people other than MDs to write about certain issues because MDs just parrot the standard party line.

        The “you are not a medical doctor” line is quite futile on MIA. Many here are tired of being at the pseudo-mercy and pseudo-charity of medical psychiatry doctors who provide no answers, but do engage in dangerous and defamatory labeling and drugging.

        We are all searching for the truth specific to ourselves. Psychiatry gives no answers. Just labels and pills.

        Do you understand what a specific truth is?

        Person has a fever. Why? Because plasmodium falciparum (as an example) was found in his body.

        Person (like you) has suicidal tendencies. Why? Because of “schioaffective disorder”. And I suppose a “diagnosis” of “headache disorder” for headaches is also valid because aspirin makes it better.

        Before you bother telling me that descriptive “diagnoses” exist in other medical fields, know that flaws in other medical fields do not absolve flaws in psychiatry. Also, the social, political and legal implications of psychiatric labelling are very different than non-psychiatric labels.

        You also have no biological proof (not behavioural proof) specific to yourself that what you have is a “bio-genetic brain disease”.

        Perhaps then, it is best to say “I don’t exactly know why but I feel bad and the pills make me feel better and that is why I take them” and leave it at that.

        And as John Hoggett pointed out, if the shrink had given you a different “diagnosis”/label and the same pill, you would have been on here saying that that disorder is a bio-genetic brain disease.

        Trust me (I have been there), you are doing a disservice to yourself with your mentality, and this has nothing to do with whether or not you want to take pills.

      • While I’m glad you were able to find relief in this way, your example is one anecdote. Anecdotes (single stories) are data of a sort but no one can draw a any conclusions from them. I know it’s confusing, but the same drugs you found very helpful have destroyed the lives of others with the same or similar diagnoses. That’s the problem when we are deciding on “diseases” by committee, and based only on surface manifestations rather than causes. A legitimate diagnosis leads to consistent treatment results. This is most definitely NOT the case in the psychiatric world. “Treatment” is mostly by trial and error, and summaries of scientific studies seem to suggest that your experience is the exception rather than the rule. Not meaning to invalidate your personal experience in any way, but in a word, what works for you may not work for everyone, or even for most people. We can’t generalize from one example.

  2. I do think the “schizophrenia” stigmatization should be dropped, thanks for bringing this up, although I think the entire DSM should be scrapped, as well. Since none of the DSM “disorders” are real diseases, and all the DSM “disorders” are scientifically invalid.

    https://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/directors/thomas-insel/blog/2013/transforming-diagnosis.shtml

    But “schizophrenia” is particularly problematic, especially since the “gold standard schizophrenia treatments,” the neuroleptics/antipsychotics, can actually create both the negative and positive symptoms of “schizophrenia.” The negative symptoms can be created via neuroleptic induced deficit syndrome and the positive symptoms can be created via antipsychotic induced anticholinergic toxidrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroleptic-Induced_Deficit_Syndrome
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxidrome

    But since neither of these known neuroleptic/antipsychotic induced illnesses are listed in the DSM, they are always intentionally or unintentionally misdiagnosed as one of the billable DSM disorders, like “schizophrenia” or “bipolar.” Resulting, no doubt, in tons and tons of additional psychiatric iatrogenesis, which is staggeringly profitable for the psychiatric industry.

    Since the “schizophrenia” treatments can create both the negative and positive symptoms of this theorized but unproven “schizophrenia disorder,” it’s highly likely that most “schizophrenia” is actually an “illness” with a primarily iatrogenic, as opposed to the assumed “genetic,” etiology. You know the old adage, when one assumes he makes an ass-out of-u-and-me.

    Nonetheless, this is probably part of the reason why the psychiatric industry has searched for over a 100 years for the “genes that cause schizophrenia,” in vain. “It’s the drugs, stupid.” Pardon, I was going for a laugh, and don’t mean to be disrespectful.

    But what’s good about the fact that the neuroleptics/antipsychotics can create the “schizophrenia” symptoms is we now know that if we could get the doctors to stop prescribing the neuroleptics/antipsychotics, we could likely prevent almost all the “schizophrenia” and other “psychotic illnesses,” like “bipolar.”

    Although, that would largely render the psychiatric industry to be “irrelevant to reality,” exactly what a psychiatrist claimed me to be, without knowing anything about me, because he was both incapable of actually listening to me and had a “not believed by doctor” problem, when I answered his questions honestly.

    • Someone Else,
      “They” know it’s iatrogenic – that the drugs cause the illness in the same way that valium causes anxiety, and “they” know that the drugs cause Akathisia and suicide – but “they” like to keep it as their little thing.

      I promise you that I am not the only one that has experienced suicidal reactions to depot injection “medication” but most of the other people are either dead or immobilized.

      From my own experience the resistance is very unified and very high, and there is a lot of money to be made in the illness creation business.

  3. MENTAL ILLNESS FRAUD NEWTON MEDICAL CENTRE LONDON W2 5LT

    Email to my MP
    On Wed, 16 Aug 2017 at 12:32,

    Subject: Mental Illness Fraud

    Dear Karen Buck MP

    Severe Mental Illness is supposed to be more disabling than being blind or in a wheelchair.

    My GP Surgery keeps playing around with terms like “schizophrenia” to the Point that I am now too frightened to go on to a building site.

    (I sent you an email earlier today at 11.15 with the details).

    Included Attachments:-

    1. A character reference from Ireland from 1986

    2. An employer’s reference from Ireland 1986

    3. A Subcontractors Inland Revenue ID Card from 1997

    4. A House of Commons Subcontractors ID Card from 2003

    5. A Construction Skills Certification Scheme ID Card from 2003

    6. A Construction Skills Certification Scheme ID Card from 2008

    7. A Construction Skills Certification Scheme ID Card from 2016

    8. CSCS ID Card 2008 Reverse Side

    9. CSCS ID Card 2016 Reverse Side

    Yours Sincerely
    ME

  4. Markps2,
    My comment above concerns the ongoing promotion of Severe Mental Illness of me by my GP Practice, 30 + years after my Recovery. This Recovery came about as a result of me carefully stopping “medication” suitable for Severe Mental Illness (Fluphenazine Decoanate Depot)

    https://www.madinamerica.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Suicide-Associated-with-Akathisia-and-Depot-Fluphenzaine-Treatment-KShear-1983.pdf

    The Fluphenazine Decoanate Depot Injection had been causing neurological disability and Suicidal Episodes (Acute Akathisia) between 1980 and 1984.

    When I stopped taking Depot Injection “medication”in April 1984:- My Hospitalizations stopped, My Suicidal Episodes stopped, and My Disability Dependency stopped (Permanently).

    Newton Medical, my GP Practice in the UK, in 2002 had placed my name on a Severe Mental Illness Register without my knowledge or consent, and were conducting tests on me without my informed consent (….while I worked at the same time on Building Sites as a Registered Subcontractor and Tradesman).

    I discovered this in a routine records check in October of 2012.

    The GP Practice claimed that they had acted like this on account of a Record Summary Sent over from Ireland, dated November 24, 1986. This 1986 Irish Record Summary had been sent over to the UK in Response to an Adverse Drug Reaction Warning Request Letter that I had sent to doctors in Ireland, dated November 8 1986.

    (A copy of this ADR Warning Request Letter was to be found at the very back of my FOI requested Irish Records).

    The November 24, 1986 Irish Record Summary sent over to the UK had DELIBERATELY OMITTED the Requested Adverse Drug Reaction Warning (and contained significant inaccuracy).

    I had two lengthy interviews with Dr Simons in October/November 2012. Dr Simons began sweating during both of these interviews and by the end of both, his shirt was sticking to his body. When I showed the1986 ADR Warning Request Letter to Dr Simons and the ABSENCE of Warning on the 1986 Irish Record Summary he subvocalized the word – “Malpractice”.

    On November 5 2012 Dr Simons of Newton Medical Central London gave me in writing the Removal of Diagnosis of “Schizophrenia” (on the grounds of possible original misdiagnosis, my independance in the UK, and “degrees in accountancy”).

    (I believe that by this time these ‘interviews’ had seriously affected Dr Simons mental balance).

    On December 13 2012 I discovered that Reference to “Schizophrenia” Diagnosis had NOT been removed from my Records; and I complained to Newton Medical.

    In Response I received a letter from Dr Simons dated January 14 2013 stating that it was not a GPs job to Remove “Schizophrenia” Diagnosis.

    I complained to the UK General Medical Council in writing on April 2 2013 about this, and I provided the necessary documentary evidence to back up my case.

    On May 17 2013 the UK General Medical Council, stated in a letter to me, that they were NOT going to investigate my Complaint because they didn’t think the issues, raised concerns about Dr Simons “Fitness to Practice”.

    My GMC Complaint Ref No.
    was NW/1-AX34X6

    The GMC Decision Letter Ref No.
    was NS/1-AX34X6

    Ms Samantha Mills signed off the GMC Decision.

    In July 2013 Dr Simons was involved in the homicide of a patient.

    https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/sailor-died-from-internal-bleeding-after-ae-sent-him-to-minor-care-unit-10288447.html

    (I have The Documentary Evidence, to back up what I’ve said here).

  5. After my “diagnosis” of Schizoaffective Disorder I couldn’t quit wanting to kill myself. Still have a bunch of damn stigmatizing labels hanging over me. I avoid doctors whenever possible. I share this with no one; even the psych quacks understand why people want to “pass.” And now that I can think clearly and observe normal social interactions again no one would believe me if I told them about these labels. Seriously.

    So lucky I don’t have tardive dyskinesea like a friend of mine was developing before I fled the Mental Illness System. Smart lady, competent and well educated. Then the Shrinks got her. After years of “safe and effective treatment” she can barely string two intelligent sentences together. 🙁 And she looks horrible too from irreversible nerve damage.

    Anyone who thinks being called a Schizophrenic or Bipolar saved their soul can don a T-shirt that says, “Kick Me I’m Bipolar!” Or “Not My Fault My Brain’s Psycho!” with pictures of Norman Bates with a butcher knife or Lizzy Borden with an ax. Have fun stigma busting. A lot of us prefer to sit out though.

    People will treat you like garbage even if you are “meds compliant.” Even if he’s wearing a muzzle and strapped to a gurney no one wants to hang with Hannibal the Cannibal.

    • THE MAD + DANGEROUS GMC
      If the UK General Medical Council is prepared to allow a doctor to Lie in writing about the Removal of “Schizophrenia” diagnosis – it doesn’t say much about the Reliability of “Mental Health” Diagnosis in the UK (or the GMC).

      In this case the GMC ought also, to have been aware that one of its members was clearly behaving irrationally.

      BURKE AND O’HARE
      My historical Irish Psychiatrist Dr PA Carney was himself on the Irish Medical Council in 2013 (and on the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists examining Board in 1986).

      I complained to the Irish Medical Council on May 6 2013 about Dr PA Carneys historical “conduct” (Case Ref. No C130/13).

      In his response dated July 11 2013 Dr P A Carney did refer to my November 8 1986 Letter (to doctors at Galway Ireland) BUT, WITHOUT any mention of the Adverse Drug Reaction Warning Request, (included within this letter). And the Irish Medical Council allowed him to do this. This doesn’t say much for the Irish Medical Council, but it does go some way to explaining the mystery behind the present day Suicide /Homicide Epidemic.

      Below is a Research paper from Dr PA Carney on the efficacy of the offending “medication” – without mention of the real Dangers or the Option of Full Recovery through discontinuation

      https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ps.49.10.1361-b

      About 40% of depot injection consumers attempt suicide.

      • I guess all terms are nasty and stigmatizing. What would you prefer to write instead of “psychosis”? I suppose you don’t like “paranoia” either. So what do you call it when a person thinks that they are being spied on by the CIA?
        When I was “anorexic” I hated people calling it that. On the other hand, I knew there was something wrong. I guess you could call it “emotional distress manifesting itself in an inappropriate relationship to food.” Or call psychosis “emotional distress manifesting itself in false beliefs about the world.” But there is something wrong there. The main point, I believe, is that one side is calling it biological and telling us that pills can fix it. The other side is saying that this is part of the human condition, and should be healed by human relationships and healthy emotional connection. I don’t think we need to get so hung up on terminology although I do understand the sensitivity to labeling.

        • “Labeling” per se is not the problem so much as labeling with medical terminology. The suffix -osis indicates an “abnormal or diseased condition.” It’s not only invalid, but deceptive and manipulative. Add to that meaningless — as whatever personal experience motivates behavior which ends up being labeled “psychotic” is unique to each individual and cannot be categorized. There’s no substitute term for something that’s a chimera to begin with.

        • Julia, MY major beef with psych labels is they’re life sentences. I think a couple broad categories to describe emotional suffering: depression, psychosis should be enough. But if the person comes to their senses and no longer thinks the CIA is spying on them or stays curled up in a fetal position all day, why do they need the label? Shouldn’t they be pronounced cured? If I have influenza should I have a permanent flu diagnosis years after I get over it?

          In the old days they used to pronounce madmen cured when they came to their senses. Now they don’t–partly because the drugs usually prevent full recovery. More importantly because telling someone they’re hopeless allows Mad Scientists to sell more drugs.

          • Yes, I see your point. I remember there was already a study done on stigma, when they wanted to investigate whether a biological “diagnosis” made stigma worse or better. The conclusion was that people who self-IDd as “mentally ill” were treated with less compassion then those who said they were having emotional difficulties.

  6. Hi Julia26,

    I would describe “paranoia” as extreme anxiety or “Catastrophisation”.

    “Psychosis” is madness and
    I would describe the majority of people labelled as “psychotic” not to be “psychotic” at all but to suffer from irrational anxiety.

    It is possible to help a person suffering from irrational anxiety with psychotherapy.

    For example I had a non English friend that lived in a very posh part of London, who came from a background where people used to kill each other over disagreements. This friend of mine had a lot of difficulty making routine complaints about things like electricity bills or telephone bills because she felt she might be killed as a result. She started psychotherapy to help her deal with the fear of being killed over a routine issue.

    I would describe the CIA sensitive person as being negatively preoccupied – there can be no happiness in a negative preoccupation.

    The CIA they might be watching every body like China does (below)…

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-42248056

    …and its best not to think about it too much!

    When I stopped the “neuroleptics” I suffered from extreme fear but I learnt how to cope with this through CBT principles, which could equally be described as Buddhist insight principles.

    The Problem for me is that any Official Mental Health Diagnosis can be used against a person at a later date. Anorexia can be just “one of those things” or it can be classed as a “Life Threatening Severe Mental Illness”.

    • Yes, I see your point, that labels can be used against a person.
      Wait to be jumped on by certain people on this forum who object to the very concept of a person actually being “mad.” I do believe that psychotherapy can in theory help someone with psychosis, but unfortunately I have yet to find the person who could actually achieve that with my husband. He “got out” of madness with short-term meds (only short-term because of my insistence – of course the “doctors” said he needs them for life). The extreme fear – I’m impressed that you worked through that yourself. In our case, it didn’t look like there was any chance of that happening. It wasn’t a negative preoccupation – it was literal terror of being killed at any minute. And this wasn’t just after coming off meds, but about 2 years after coming off. I wish I had some good answers instead of short-term poison.

      • Of course your husband can benefit. He can benefit as well while on medication, and take take it from there.

        I was definitely still terrified after 2 years. I was terrified of everything!
        Catastrophy is Catastrophy.

        I don’t remember being killed as being very high on my fear list, though.

      • I have experienced what I consider madness myself.

        Some will be angry at me for saying this but not all psych survivors are carefree eccentrics or party animals with gas lighting family members who dragged us kicking and screaming to the shrinks.

        In my case I was already suffering horribly. I kept having flashbacks to trauma in high school (sexually harassed every day) and grew too frightened to leave my dorm room in college. Others are afraid to eat–because they hate their bodies or feel guilty or need a sense of control.

        I knew a man in a group home who kept yelling at his voices, “F___ you, XXXXs!” He would beat his head with his fist to silence them; one eye was blind, probably from the blows he dealt himself. His suffering was real enough. He was on a lot of drugs too. Ineffective crap at best.

        • Regarding “I knew a man in a group home who kept yelling at his voices, “F___ you, XXXXs!”

          The question you have to ask is “Was he like this before psychiatry, before psychiatric drugs had affected his brain?” more and more drugs is not the solution.

          From living in the noisy city I too can yell “F___ you, XXXXs!” but if I am in the silence and serenity of land that is outside the city I feel much better.

          If I had a disease like cancer that was aggravated and stimulated to grow when living in the city , doctors would recommend leaving the city. But in psychiatry the living situation (environment) of the “patient” is ignored.

          What is aggravating and stimulating some ones “mental illness”? I would say noise pollution of the industrialized city.

          • He might have benefited from being taken off the drugs, attending a Hearing Voices workshop, certain forms of therapy, and maybe large amounts of vitamins like Dr. Abrams used to help people.

            I almost made a trip to Canada to see him. Lack of money played a key role in my not going. From what I know now, going off my Haldol would have brought me “back.” Also leaving the psych ghetto. Segregation is NOT integration!

      • Hi Julia,
        you might check into the concept of “proximity maintenance’ within attachment theory. It’s pretty much what it says: using your presence to calm a loved one like a mother does a small child. Most of the literature on attachment theory deals with the raising of small children, but I think it’s transferable to adults because so much trauma that adults deal with is based in childhood and so they are essentially stuck in childhood. My wife had one girl (alter) who was essentially agoraphobic, but over time as I submitted to her needs for extreme proximity maintenance, she slowly healed and now is fine.

        The ‘safe haven’ concept from attachment theory is another one I used a lot when I helped my wife. When she got overwhelmed, I literally wrapped her up in my arms and just said what any parent would say to a little child who is terrified, “It’s ok now. I’ve got you. You aren’t alone anymore. I’ll keep you safe.” I spent years doing that when we first started this journey, until I essentially ‘overwrote’ the fear in her mind with my words of safety and comfort.

        There were other things I did, too, if you have interest. Just realize that you have more ‘power’ to help your husband than anyone else in this world, period! Therapists can help, but we who are the primary attachment figures simply have the ability to reach deeper into a person’s psyche and bring healing where no one else has access.

        Sam

        • Julia,
          I was out on the trails of the Smokies this morning, thinking about your comment, and I wanted to add one thing.
          My wife has been subjected to many different kinds of fears, many on the verge of paranoia. What I learned when helping her is that there is no such thing as an ‘irrational’ fear from the perspective of the person who is in its grips. What I had to learn to do was enter into my wife’s and understand her fear from her perspective and VALIDATE that fear without exacerbating the fear. Many of her fears were based on past trauma, but me simply declaring, “There’s no reason to fear” didn’t magically release her from the fear.

          Fear shuts down a person’s ability to logically think about things, and so if we denigrate our loved one’s fear, all he/she can hear is “no one believes me. I’m still all alone.” And the fear intensifies because so much of the power of fear is based on a person experiencing the trauma by him/herself.

          So when the girls told me of their various fears, I would sympathize ‘how scary that would be…” and then try to redirect them and say, “But now you aren’t alone anymore. Now I’m with you, and I’ll keep you safe.” Sometimes that was enough to release them from the fear if it was a superficial fear. But for other fears, I had to be pragmatic, and say, “What would help you feel safer?” And usually the girls have very specific things that would help them feel safer…I don’t argue, I simply do what they need to help them feel safer. Once I do those things, it releases them from the overwhelming intensity of the fear and then they can begin to move on.

          If your husband still believes the CIA is spying on him, ask, “What can I do that would help you feel safer?” Remind him, “I’ve got your back. You aren’t alone anymore. They won’t get you without going thru me…” Again, validate without exacerbating the fear…and if he knows he’s no longer alone, he WILL begin to be released from the fear. Eventually he may even tell you the source of the fear, but even if he never does, your presence and support in that fear will lessen it for him.
          Sam

          • I’ve talked to people in institutions who held odd (likely unreal) beliefs. It’s important to know that even if someone imagines space aliens are watching his every move to harm him, his terrified feelings are real enough. His emotional suffering needs to be taken seriously.
            I try to be careful when I talk to people about anti-psychiatry not to just say, “Mental illness does not exist.”
            Often they become very angry. This anger is understandable when you realize they don’t understand what you’re saying. They think you deny people hallucinate, think weird things that aren’t real, become horribly unhappy/discouraged so they can’t get out of bed and this intense suffering never convinces people to commit suicide. People suffering from “psychosis” or “depression” think you’re accusing them of malingering or faking it.

  7. Bullshit ! You can change the name but the symptoms are the symptoms. Psychiatrists and Big Pharma made billions of dollars since the 50s with psychotic voice hearers. Today, with psychologists, they want to send most of these psychotic voice hearers back to work because the truth is that neither psychiatrists, neither antipsychotics can help them to have a healthier life.

    I have tried many times to find a job but I could forget about it as soon as I said the word “schizophrenia”. Now at fifty years old, fewer are the chances that I find a job, no chance to find a job in fact because psychosis can appear at any time of my life with no possibility to prevent this psychic disorder and to get rid of it quickly.

    If you read some newspapers, many murderers are described as having schizophrenia. The fact is that these murderers are not suffering at all. Murderers are sadists or psychopaths, not having schizophrenia. If you have schizophrenia, you are suffering and you have plenty other things to think about yourself instead of thinking and wanting to kill a human being. Also statistics tell us that anyone can be a killer. Nobody on Earth can tell what type of human beings can be killers.