Monday, May 04, 2009

"I wanted to do something as important as the discovery of penicillin"

A New York Times interview with Nancy Andreasen, author of books, such as The broken brain. She reports what she calls the "big finding" that people with schizophrenia are losing brain tissue at a more rapid rate than healthy people of comparable age. Some are said to be losing as much as 1% per year. This data comes from an unpublished study following up schizophrenics. Andreasen seems to suggest the finding may be due to prefrontal cortical atrophy caused by antipsychotic drugs.

Andreasen says she "sat on" the findings because she didn't want people who need the drugs to stop taking them. Actually, there may be other non-specific reasons why people given antipsychotics have less brain tissue. Any drug effect on brain tissue also may not be of much consequence. But, the problem is the lack of debate. Andreasen is so wedded to the biomedical hypothesis that any potential negative repercussions of her views are suppressed.


Anonymous said...

wow, that is a great study. i've been arguing about this with my psychiatrist for a year and a half; he'll never believe me... guess I must let it go.

cobweb said...

Hi Anon -Good luck with getting a psychiatrist to learn from you! Duncan thanks for clearing up any confusion about incorrectly describing withdrawal from prescription drugs as being the same as 'addiction' to drugs. Thre's a lot of work been done on this and other topics on Rxisk blog.- it's sad though and surprising really to realise that you are still refering to people as 'schizophrenics'. Having a diagnosis of schizophrenia doesn't define a person Those with other diagnostic labels are rarely referred to as eg 'bi-polars' or 'strokes'. Schizophrenia seems to be a special category. Many psychiatric labels and even claims to be disorders cause huge distress and social problems for those with labels first used even centuries ago as well as newly invented ones. susanne stevens