Thursday, September 24, 2020

Comments by Patrick Hahn

Showing 11 of 11 comments.

  • The evidence purporting to show the schizophrenia is a genetically-based condition comes from family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies. In my book I argue that all of these studies are fatally flawed in ways that cannot be fixed, and tell us nothing.

    But now the new new science of genome-wide association studies has enabled scientists to go over the human genome with a fine-toothed comb, and that have not found any gene that causes schizophrenia or any of the other functional disorders listed in the DSM. As I stated in my article, the effect sizes of the so-called schizophrenia-associated alleles are on the order of one in five hundred, or even less. All of them put together are said to account for something like two or three percent of the population susceptibility.

    The fact that schizophrenia is not a genetically-based condition should have been greeted as great news, because that means that the deciding factor is in the environment, and that is something we can change.

    I acknowledged that people vary in their susceptibility to trauma, and genes many have something to do with that, and so what? As I asked in my book, if a child is being abused, do we stop the abuse, or do we give her a blood test? And if the test reveals she has a low genetic risk score for schizophrenia, do we leave her in the abusive situation?

  • In the end, this book shows how ridiculous the “it’s in the genes” argument is. Whatever else you can say about these parents, they clearly were not from the shallow end of the gene pool. Especially the father. He was an extraordinarily capable man. He just doesn’t seem to have had much interest in being a dad to the twelve children he sired.

  • The book does mention that several of the brothers remember their mother as a “harsh disciplinarian.” Did the “harsh discipline” ever cross over the line to abuse? Kolker doesn’t seem interested in finding out.

    And let’s try to have some compassion for the lady. This was a woman who continued squeezing out babies for her husband long after almost any other woman in the developed world would have stopped – and then was stuck with the task of raising ten (!) rowdy boys with almost no help from her husband or anyone else. That bespeaks a husband who was a narcissistic manipulator, or worse. Who among us can guarantee we never would have lashed out in anger under these circumstances? Not I.

    In fairness to the parents, they did give therapy a try – but they don’t seem to have tried very hard. The first time one of their sons had a bad reaction to drugs, did they swear off all drugs? Certainly not. The first time one of their sons had a bad reaction to electroshock, did they swear off all electroshock? Certainly not. But a few negative interactions with therapists apparently were enough to induce these parents to swear off all therapy.

    Kolker is maddeningly vague about the details here, as if this were a matter of little import. The only specific complaints about therapy he mentions are 1) The son was resting his head on his mother’s chest during therapy, and the therapist called her out on it, and 2) The mother repeatedly interrupted her son when he tried to talk about his hallucinations during therapy, and the therapist called her out on it.

    In regard to complaint number one: this is clearly not appropriate behavior for a grown man, and the therapist was absolutely right to call her out on this. In regard to complaint number two, this clearly bespeaks serious communication problems within the family, and again the therapist was absolutely right to call her out on it.

    It seems likely this woman was carrying a huge burden of anger and resentment, and may have interpreted any effort to find out what had gone wrong in this family as a personal attack. Perhaps this particular therapist was not skilled enough to find a way to reach past this burden of anger. There may have been all kinds of dynamics at work here that we will never know about. But all these complexities are lost on Kolker, who instead presents us with a false dichotomy: “blaming the mother” or drugs and electroshock – even though, in his own words, “the cure becomes as damaging as the disease.”

  • Sure, people vary in their susceptibility to trauma, and hereditary factors no doubt play a role in that. Anyone who has experience on life as it is lived knows this, and what of it?

    I was just re-reading Dr. Breggin’s book The War on Children. He points out that in the Nineteenth Century, when they found the cause of the cholera epidemic in London — tainted water — they didn’t sit around discussing “genetic susceptibilities” and “stress-diathesis” and so forth. They fixed the problem, and everyone was better off — whether they were genetically susceptible to cholera or not.

    Granted, fixing the problem of adverse childhood experiences is a lot more complex than fixing one city’s water supply infrastructure, but we may as well get on with it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • This is wonderful.

    In my book Madness and Genetic Determinism: Is Mental Illness in Our Genes?, I examine the evidence and conclude that a century of psychiatric genetics research has failed to produce any credible evidence of a strong genetic component to so-called “mental illness.” On the other hand, there is overwhelming evidence that the complaints that fall under the diagnostic rubric of “schizophrenia” are caused (not “triggered”) by child sexual abuse and every other form of adverse childhood experience.

    https://www.amazon.com/Madness-Genetic-Determinism-Mental-Illness/dp/3030218651/ref=sr_1_1?crid=4ENFO53A7A5G&dchild=1&keywords=madness and genetic determinism&qid=1594074380&s=books&sprefix=madness and gene,stripbooks,141&sr=1-1

    Thanks for writing this.

  • Billions spent on genome-wide association studies of complex diseases, and not one patient in the world has benefitted. The only purpose these studies serve is to bamboozle the public onto thinking these conditions called “mental illnesses” are matter beyond their ken.

    There isn’t a word in the English language to describe the fatuity of conducting a GWA study on post-traumatic stress disorder. In calling it that, they’ve already identified the source of the problem — trauma! Why bring genes into the argument at all?

  • I agree.

    The whole “blame-the-mother” or “blame the parent” argument is a lovely example of a false dichotomy. If a child is having problems, do we blame the mother (or the parents) or do we drug the child?

    Here’s an idea — of a child is having problems, instead of drugging the child or arguing over who is to blame, how about we look for solutions?

    I believe any family therapist worth his or her salt will tell you the purpose of family therapy is not to assign blame to a specific individual — it is to get the family members to look at patterns of interaction that are not productive, and replace them with those that are.

    And if your therapist feels otherwise, I would suggest getting a new therapist.

  • An article by Joseph Biederman and a colleague makes my point perfectly. In a commentary on psychologist Jay Joseph’s devastating review of family, twin, and adoption studies of ADHD, they write:

    “Moreover, Joseph fails to show that psychosocial theories can stigmatize families. We recall the now-discredited theory of the schizophrenogenic mother which burdened an entire generation of mothers of schizophrenic patients.”

    Biederman, as you all no doubt probably know, has built a career on diagnosing toddlers with “bipolar disorder” and drugging them with major tranquilizers.

    Here’s the link to the article:

    https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2000-16958-004?fbclid=IwAR2PBiyLWifUkT_rWqYRUfyGAraeJqqNJ3XoRQGSqZG8S_f99tQiCrkZQdU

  • From the NYT obit: “’They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that,’ Edward Shorter, a professor of psychiatry at the university and a longstanding critic of anti-psychiatry, said in a phone interview. The university, he said, ‘made a big mistake in setting up a special scholarship fund in her name; it’s an anti-psychiatry fund that legitimizes the movement.’”

    Shorter’s History of Psychiatry skips over the atrocities of Nazi psychiatry in less than a paragraph, ridicules the value of psychotherapy, and sings unqualified praise for bio-genetic explanations and drug-centered treatments for so-called “mental illnesses.” In fact, twenty-five years after Shorter’s mammoth tome was published, there still is no convincing evidence of a strong genetic component for “mental illnesses” and no known measurable biochemical, neurological, physiological, anatomical, signs for any of the so-called “functional disorders” commonly treated by psychiatrists.

    What’s more, as consumption of psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed, so has the proportion of the population disabled by “mental illness” and the suicide rate. This is not what happens when treatments work.

  • From the NYT obit: “’They’re trying to claim that there’s no such thing as psychiatric illness, and I think she did a lot of damage with the publicity she got surrounding that,’ Edward Shorter, a professor of psychiatry at the university and a longstanding critic of anti-psychiatry, said in a phone interview. The university, he said, ‘made a big mistake in setting up a special scholarship fund in her name; it’s an anti-psychiatry fund that legitimizes the movement.’”

    Shorter’s History of Psychiatry skips over the atrocities of Nazi psychiatry in less than a paragraph, ridicules the value of psychotherapy, and sings unqualified praise for bio-genetic explanations and drug-centered treatments for so-called “mental illnesses.” In fact, twenty-five years after Shorter’s mammoth tome was published, there still is no convincing evidence of a strong genetic component for “mental illnesses” and no known measurable biochemical, neurological, physiological, anatomical, signs for any of the so-called “functional disorders” commonly treated by psychiatrists.

    What’s more, as consumption of psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed, so has the proportion of the population disabled by “mental illness” and the suicide rate. This is not what happens when treatments work.