Thursday, May 16, 2019

Schizophrenia is not a chronic brain disorder

I've been asked how the American Psychiatric Association (APA) is allowed to call schizophrenia a "chronic brain disorder" on its information webpage about 'What is schizophrenia?'. The answer is that professional bodies, including the Royal College of Psychiatrists (see eg. previous post), can't be relied on for information about psychiatry. There was a time when American psychiatry would have been more cautious about making such a claim. For example, neurobiology was only represented in a few sections of the 1959 American Handbook of Psychiatry (see my book chapter). Any influence of psychoanalysis and Meyerian psychiatry is now difficult to find in modern American psychiatry (see eg. another book chapter).

I'm reminded of the hunger strike on the 16 August 2003 by six "psychiatric survivors" to challenge the APA for evidence to support common claims that major mental illnesses are "proven biological diseases of the brain" and that emotional distress results from "chemical imbalances" in the brain (see Fast for Freedom information webpage). I wrote an article about this situation. It’s still the case that the APA needs to take a more balanced view of the evidence about the neurobiological basis of mental illness. 


Richard Gipps said...

Even if similar brain changes (not produced by medication use) are found in diverse schizophrenia sufferers, this doesn't show that being schizophrenic is having a chronic brain disorder - any more than having a swollen hippocampus tells us what being a taxi driver is.

DBDouble said...

Yes but there are no consistent findings, apart from ventricular enlargement, which seems to be drug related.

cobweb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cobweb said...

Many people have one episode of psychosis and never again - if people diagnosed as 'schizophrenic' and that condition is 'chronic' they would surely have the same brain configurations permanently ..yet they don't - if they did the neurologists would be having a field day already with pharmaceutical companies. susanne

F68.10 said...

Calling it a brain disorder is simply not supported by evidence. To my understanding at least.

Reading the first link just proves the point that all the talk about the "biopsychosocial" paradigm is just political talk that has no real relevance to actual policy. That alone vindicates the legitimacy and need for a "social justice" movement among mental patients.

While I tend to generally view "social justice warrior" with suspicion, they also seem to me have a clear enough point that given the socially engineered confusion about schizophrenia, we should rightly accurately describe that label as pertaining to "hate speech" as things stand today.

You do not even have to "believe" in psychoanalysis to claim that it is not supported that schizophrenia is not evidenced to be a brain disorder. You just have to be an honest rationalist. I just wished they stopped throwing psychoanalysis around as some sort of boogeyman!

So let's call things as they are: Bullshit.

And we need Bullshit-free-medicine.

Are there any laws that should be able to prevent the APA to spout dangerous antiscientific Bullshit given their social responsibility? With all that talk these days about "fake news" and "alternative facts", I do believe they have serious responsibility, and that their position clearly is an immoral one. I just have no clue whether or not it's an illegal one.