walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Schizophrenia in the News

The NYTimes ran a Christmas Day op-ed entitled “Our Failed Approach to Schizophrenia”. It touched upon many of the relevant issues: very few beds available, “too little education about the public health impact of untreated mental illness”, not enough psychiatrists specializing in “severe mental disorders”, etc., with the good news being we do have a lot of effective drug treatments now.

Steinberg further argues that an ethical rule within psychiatry makes the situation worse by preventing professionals from participating in public discourse effectively (no speculating about the conditions of people you haven’t examined). He concludes by arguing in favor of increased limitations on access to guns, increased access to mental health services including longer in-patient stays for patients with schizophrenia, public education on the issue and more psychiatrists focused on schizophrenia.

Two days before that, Ann Meyer at The Record Searchlight, a Redding, California paper, published a description of a personal experience with a young man with schizophrenia that she had been conned into putting up while his parents went on vacation -- and without any disclosure his either untreated or incompletely treated mental illness, or adequate contact information for finding his parents or other responsible parties. The day after Christmas, the same paper published Justin Howland’s response about how his family responded to his brother’s schizophrenia. While Howland and Meyer both emphasize the problems with family denial of very real mental health issues, Meyer emphasizes the real-world consequences to those with schizophrenia and other delusional disorder: becoming homeless, often the victims of violence.

While of course I am, like everyone else, deeply saddened by one of the causes of this discussion (the crime committed in Newtown) and horrified (if not that surprised) by another (the NRA attempting to redirect energy away from gun control by focusing on mental illness), I’m _really, really happy_ we are having this public discussion.

But it feels a lot like “take out the trash” Friday: knowing that this is news that needs to be covered, but knowing that it’s a bit of a thankless task and the sort of thing that everyone wishes would just go away, the coverage is limited to a time when no one is likely to be paying a whole lot of attention.



Other items about schizophrenia in the news include: treatment resistant (as in, the drugs don’t work, not, the person didn’t take the drugs) schizophrenia might differ from treatment responsive schizophrenia in terms of dopamine levels; schizophrenia may be associated with poor urban areas with greater inequality (some of the coverage and the original researchers may have the causal arrow on this one wrong); schizophrenia and unaffected relatives may have more cortical thinning than the general population; people with schizophrenia have impaired autobiographical recall (this one actually might be worth delving into); sympathetic biographical sketches of men with schizophrenia (who accept that they have this condition) and how their life is progressing, what their goals are, etc.; schizophrenia which is treated early, aggressively, and in which drug treatment is paired with cognitive therapy and other supports can allow people with this condition to attend college and hold down a job; long acting injectable versions of drugs should not be treated as a last resort but possibly as a first resort for schizophrenia to improve compliance and treatment outcomes. Also, this piece, which I have to say really pisses me off:


I can tickle myself. I’ve always been able to tickle myself. The idea that this is impossible has just always struck me as stupid. Really? Now you’re telling me I’m schizophrenic because of this.

I don’t think so. It is, however, evidence for my belief that I would have gotten my kids’ diagnosis, if I had been born post-2000 or thereabouts. It would have been helpful if someone had taken the trouble to observe that self-tickling within the ASD community is usually connected to hyper-sensitivity, whereas self-tickling within the schizophrenic community is more a matter of confusion about what is coming from within the self versus outside the self.

I’m going to stop for now.
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