Tag: Schizophrenia

“Cannabis for Schizophrenia – Does it Work?”

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The German news agency DW features a video report on whether cannabidiol, an active substance derived from marijuana, can help relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) Study: Notes from...

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I was a psychiatrist who participated in the Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode Early Treatment Program (RAISE ETP). Although I welcomed the positive headlines that heralded the study's results, the reports left me with mixed feelings. What happened to render the notion that talking to people about their experiences and helping them find jobs or go back to school is something novel?

Why Mainstream Psychiatry Fears a Balanced Understanding of Psychosis

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Many people are now familiar with the BPS report, Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia, and they have appreciated how it integrates both science and a humanistic understanding to convey a fresh and progressive approach to difficult and extreme experiences. But it has come under attack by psychiatrists, using arguments that are often quite slick, and sound reasonable to the uninformed. But they are wrong, and the better we can articulate how and why they are wrong, the better we can advocate for a more humane and skillful response to people having the experiences that are called “psychosis.”

RAISE Study Out Of Sync With Media Reports

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Writing on his 1 Boring Old Man blog, Dr. Mickey Nardo reflects on the media frenzy around the RAISE study and asks why the prescription data has not been released. He adds skepticism about the political motives of the potentially overblown results, which he sees as a clear push for increased mental health funding.

Landmark Schizophrenia Study Recommends More Therapy

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Results of a large government-funded study call into question current drug heavy approaches to treating people diagnosed with schizophrenia. The study, which the New York Times called “by far the most rigorous trial to date conducted in the United States,” found that patients who received smaller doses of antipsychotic drugs with individual talk therapy, family training, and support for employment and education had a greater reduction in symptoms as well as increases in quality of life, and participation in work and school than those receiving the current standard of care.

Slow Psychiatry: Integrating Need-Adapted Approaches with Drug-Centered Pharmacology

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For the past four years, I have been deconstructing my views of my profession. My focus has been primarily in two areas: the efficacy and safety of the drugs I prescribe and the so-called “alternative” approaches (in this I include many things such as Open Dialogue, Hearing Voices groups, and Intentional Peer Support to name a few). I have shared much of this in the blogs I wrote during this time. I am also interested in how we can improve and reform the public mental health system since this is not only where I work but where most people seek services and help. I wonder where – if anywhere – psychiatrists fit in to a reformed system.

“My Ego Strength is Too Developed for Me to Ever Become...

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That was the emphatic response from my grad school psychopathology professor 35 years ago, after I'd stated in her class that anyone could become psychotic given sufficient life stressors, losses and trauma. How many current mental health professionals, especially psychiatrists, also believe they have such strong egos that they never could experience extreme states?

Long-Term Social Supports Needed After Onset of Psychosis

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New data on the effects of social support after early onset of psychosis suggests that patients with intense social support function better than those without such help, but than once supports are removed the effects diminish.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help Prevent Transition to Psychosis

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“When people with early-stage symptoms took omega-3 supplements for three months, they had much lower rates of progression than those who did not,” according to research out of Australia covered in this month’s issue of the New Scientist.

CBT: Part of the Solution, Part of the Problem, an...

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Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT has been pretty heavily criticized by a number of Mad in America (MIA) bloggers and commenters in the past few years. In a way that isn’t surprising, because most MIA bloggers are looking for radical change, and CBT often appears to be part of the establishment, especially within the therapy world. But while I’m all for criticizing what’s wrong with CBT, especially with bad CBT, I think there’s also a danger in getting so caught up in pointing out real or imagined flaws that we fail to notice where CBT can be part of the solution, helping us move toward more humanistic and effective methods of helping.

Eight Unanswered Questions about Psychiatric Research in Minnesota

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The wait has been exhausting, but it is possible that a flicker of light may finally shine on the dark recent history of psychiatric research at the University of Minnesota. Given these upcoming investigations of psychiatric research at the University of Minnesota, the time is right to look back at some of the disturbing, unanswered questions that have emerged over the past several years.

Listening for the Person within “Madness”

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As we struggle to invent a humane approach to the extreme states that get called “psychosis” or “madness” or “schizophrenia,” it may be helpful to investigate some of the better approaches developed in the past. While these approaches are not without their flaws, they are often surprisingly insightful. (It can also of course be depressing to notice how truths once more widely known were so easily “forgotten” as compassionate approaches got ditched in favor of the latest coercive innovations.)

Is This Depression? Or Melancholy? Or…

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We live in a culture bombarded by media and sped up by rapid-fire social interactions. It's definitely useful to grab hold of a simple, short, sound-bite term, to quickly describe what we are feeling or suffering. "Depression" is such a word - it evokes and encapsulates, conjures the images of that ugly pit of despair that can drive so many to madness and suicide. Yet at the same time the words we use, strangely, become like those pens deposited in medical offices and waiting rooms around the world: ready at hand, easily found, familiar -- and tied to associations, marketing and meanings we were only dimly aware were shaping how we think.

Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia? What About Black People?

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In many respects it is difficult to fault the report Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia, recently published by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP)[i]; indeed, as recent posts on Mad in America have observed, there is much to admire in it. Whilst not overtly attacking biomedical interpretations of psychosis, it rightly draws attention to the limitations and problems of this model, and points instead to the importance of contexts of adversity, oppression and abuse in understanding psychosis. But the report makes only scant, fleeting references to the role of cultural differences and the complex relationships that are apparent between such differences and individual experiences of psychosis.

When Homosexuality Came Out (of the DSM)

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With a diagnosis of schizophrenia, if internalized, comes the erosion of personhood, lowered self-esteem, shattered dreams, and a sense of disenchantment. The psychiatrist Richard Warner has even suggested that those who reject the diagnosis of severe mental illness may have better outcomes as they retain the right to construct their own narrative of personhood and define what really matters for them. Despite public education campaigns (or perhaps because of them), the stigma of mental illness is as enduring as it was 50 years ago.

Why “Stabilizing” People is Entirely the Wrong Idea

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If human beings were meant to be entirely stable entities, then “stabilizing” them would be an entirely good thing; a target for mental health treatment that all could agree on. But it’s way more complex than that: healthy humans are constantly moving and changing. They have a complex mix of stability and instability that is hard to pin down. All this relates to one of my favorite subjects, the intersection of creativity and madness.

From Protesting to Taking Over: Using Education to Change Mental Health...

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As we develop critical awareness about the mental health “treatments” that don’t work and that often make things much worse, the question inevitably comes up, what can those who want to be helpful be doing instead?

Are You Ready for Multiple Lawsuits By Victims of Psychiatric Misconduct?

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Professor Leigh Turner of the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics blasts the Board of Regents for ignoring psychiatric research abuse.

CAFÉ Study: Real Science or Marketing Exercise?

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I received the following question from a reader regarding the controversial CAFÉ – Comparisons of Atypicals in First Episode of Psychosis - study. (This was the study in which Dan Markingson committed suicide.) "It appears that there was no head-to-head with a control group taking a placebo pill. Nor was there a control group featuring 'old' types of 'antipsychotic'. If that was the case then it is very poor study . . . what on earth can you hope to show from the data?" I started to write a response, but the subject is complex, and my response became the following article.

Investigate the Markingson Suicide? Not So Fast, Says University President

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Responding to a letter signed by 175 scholars asking for an inquiry into the death of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota, the Faculty Senate voted to investigate clinical research at the university. But the university president says the Markingson case will not be part of the investigation. What is he trying to hide?

KMSP-TV Investigative Report on Psychiatric Research Abuse at the University of...

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For a scathing, 11-minute overview of the death of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota, and new allegations of coercion into psychiatric clinical trials, you can't do much better than this excellent investigative report by Jeff Baillon.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Psychosis: A Valuable Contribution Despite Major...

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The core of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, or ACT, is the idea of simply accepting, rather than trying to get rid of, disturbing or unwanted inner experiences like anxiety or voices, and then refocusing on a commitment to take action toward personally chosen values regardless of whether that seems to make the unwanted experiences increase or decrease. This idea is consistent with the emphasis in the recovery movement of finding a way to live a valued life despite any ongoing problems, but ACT has value because of the unique and effective strategies it offers to help people make this shift.

Creating Dialog on Approaches for “Psychosis” in New Jersey

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What would happen if professionals opened their minds about the nature of madness?  What new possibilities might be created if they questioned labels such...

Symptom or Experience: Does Language Matter?

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Of all the beliefs that I have had about my experiences, the belief that I was ‘schizophrenic’ was the most damaging. In adopting the story that others told about me, and abandoning my own sense-making process, I held on to a belief that both hid my traumatic life experiences and rendered them irrelevant. Does it matter if we sometimes slip into the language of illness when we all agree that these experiences are meaningful, personal and have value? Yes. It does.

Tapering Off Medications When “Symptoms Have Remitted”: Does That Make Sense?

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While a 2-year outcome study by Wunderink, et al. has been cited as evidence that guided discontinuation of antipsychotics for people whose psychosis has remitted results in twice as much “relapse,” a not-yet-published followup of that study, extending it to 7 years using a naturalistic followup, finds that the guided discontinuation group had twice the recovery rates, and no greater overall relapse rate (with a trend toward the medication group having more relapse.)