December 30th, 2012


Crazy Thinking

I've been poking a bit again at my ancestors' time in Exira, IA, and ran across the horror story of the murder of Hiram Jellerson and the lynching that occurred in its aftermath (no relations of mine, as near as I can tell). Crime in the area is about what you would expect: not much, and what there is mostly driven by meth. For reasons that escape me now, I was googling something about meth -- probably trying to understand the chicken-and-egg of meth induced psychosis that lasts more than a year (is it a latent condition triggered? Or could this happen to anyone? Is it the meth or is it a contaminant? Type of thing), when I ran across the term "alogia". So I looked up alogia, a common symptom of schizophrenia, in wikipedia.

There's an example of what it's like to talk to someone with the condition vs. someone who doesn't have the condition, and I have to say, that really got me to thinking. A lot.

So I've bought a copy of _I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help_ by Xavier Amador, in hopes that I can better understand schizophrenia. Because I'd feel a whole lot better about a couple of people if I could convince myself they were suffering from schizophrenia, than my long time theory that they are a combination of crazy (in the colloquial as opposed to clinical sense) and vicious. There's a downside here: they are both closely related to me.

ETA: Hunh. That's is one weird idea:

Cats, schizophrenia and rheumatoid arthritis. Someone's pattern matching may have gotten a little fixated.

Several someones:

Okay, I'm going with the "junk science" theory at this point. A _vascular_ theory? Really? What's wrong with you people? I find it a little amazing that it was only quite recently that anyone bothered to quantify how many people with schizo* or bipolar disorder believe they have the problem they are getting inpatient treatment for -- turns out less than half (which is really different from people with depression, say -- those people _know_ they have a problem).

ETAYA: "Many people believe that side effects -- not lack of insight -- are the most important reason so many people refuse to take their medication. As it turns out, side effects play a very small role in treatment refusal while poor insight is the biggest predictor of who will refuse to take medicine. ... many people with poor insight give up trying to convince their doctors and loved ones that they are not sick and instead talk about side effects because they know they will be listened to."

Oh, for f*ck's sake. This makes _so much sense_. If nothing else, it explains virtually all of the really odd things that appear in comments threads for articles arguing in favor of commitment oriented treatment programs, to help keep the mentally ill out of prison, by giving them/their families options before such serious crimes are committed that all options go away.

ETA Why are you still reading this, anyway? Clearly it's out of control. Okay, for your amusement: don't get on the wrong side of Torrey.

It's a nice piece of analysis and I don't have any issues with it beyond noting that misspelling the psychiatrist's name as Steingrad, while almost certainly an honest error, was unfortunate. Here's the best paragraph:

"The difference between anosognosia and denial can therefore be summarized as follows: A woman with schizophrenia sits daily in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, believing she is married to the President and waiting for him to call her to come over. She believes he has to wait to acknowledge her because of the interference of Israeli secret agents. She is very patient and, at night, sleeps on the streets, where she is regularly abused. When offered medication, she adamantly refuses it, saying there is nothing wrong with her. This is anosognosia. Another woman, trained as a mental health professional, briefly examines some scientific data and concludes it is wrong because it conflicts with her deeply held social belief system. This is denial."