Healing the Mind

While researching, I happened upon The World Health Organization (WHO) 100-some odd page 2012 document about rates of schizophrenia across the globe. The problem is, largely half of the report is about depression. The WHO apparently thinks sz and depression are similar enough to lump together in one large bucket. To further confuse things, I looked up Mood Disorder and found it includes alcoholism and substance abuse along with bipolar disorder. “Mood Disorder” is a term psychologists like to use. My own neurobehaviorist preferred to call sz a “thought disorder” — a status it shares with psychosis. Let’s not make this more confusing than it already is, however.

Schizophrenia is a neurobiological disorder, in the same company as Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Autism. I did not learn this from my doctor, for as you recall, he prefers another term, a term which some argue is vague and circular along the lines of “psychotic disorder.”

To make matters worse, schizophrenia shares common characteristics with brain injuries, such as confusion, disorientation, and poor judgment. Agnosia, or an inability to know one is sick or injured, can also be present in both psychosis and schizophrenia, but it is a hallmark of brain injury. Schizophrenia can be present with a brain injury, also called comorbid schizophrenia. Very few people argue diseases or injuries to the brain are not among the most serious, debilitating ailments. Right? The question is, why is schizophrenia, more often than not, placed with depression and alcoholism, than with true, physical changes in the brain that cause permanent disease and disability?

The myth persists that schizophrenia is a result of some emotional trauma and the person who suffers is simply not a resilient person. We must dispel this myth and displace psychosis and schizophrenia from the likes of an out-of-control scary Hollywood outburst to where it rightfully belongs, as an injury to the most crucial and critical part of the body. As long as we continue to lump sz together with emotional upsets, we strike not only at the heart of the individual, we also miss the target entirely. In this way, we will never find healing.

2 thoughts on “Healing the Mind

  1. 123 July 22, 2012 / 3:02 pm

    …I think the problem here is that the status of schizophrenia as a “neurological” disorder (ie in the “meat” of the brain in the sense of organic damage) remains unproven, and is as much a “myth” (perhaps “theory” is more applicable) as the idea that schizophrenia “comes from” emotional trauma. Both positions (psychological causation and biological causation) are as yet unproven, although each model holds functionality for those who need it.The causes of schizophrenia, bipolar, depression and anxiety are as yet unknown so they are impossible to categorise (although my personal take is that until they show clear evidence of biological causation, I identify with psychosocial causes) into neurology or otherwise. The problem of nature/nurture is far from solved.

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    • K.Arment July 22, 2012 / 10:00 pm

      You bring up some great points worth of deeper discussion. I know I have found it more helpful in my own case to pursue solutions-based therapy and to treat the psychosis and resulting psychosocial problems as trauma. Having got this disease at a much later age than most gave me a different perspective I feel for I have a cadre of lifetime coping skills to fall back on, which those in their youth do not have. I attribute these coping skills in large part to my recovery. It is much harder to develop “normal” coping skills while experiencing “abnormal” perceptions. I think it’s a unrealistic expectation on youth who are already struggling. Although I am not a therapist and have no concrete suggestions, I think a new approach is in order that takes into consideration a person’s age of onset, their current age, and the severity/chronicity of their symptoms.

      Thanks for the great comment!

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