“Schizophrenia” does not exist.
That some people struggle and suffer and become isolated by that is not in doubt, especially here.
That they suffer because they have a “thing” and that “thing” is named “schizo-whatever” is just not true.
That people suffer because they have biological fault/ disease is a myth.
Scientifically, it doesn’t qualify as a diagnosis let alone a syndrome – there is simply too much variation in what gets given that name.
That people don’t recover is a lie, that they have no hope is only true because of the way other people treat them.
Schizophrenia is not a thing it’s an idea.
And it’s a really bad one.
What limits our freedom is the myths and stories that we tell ourselves and the myths and stories we tell each other.
The big list of “Schizo” is constructed from observations of people who had already been determined – by individuals given the power to determine it- as already lost and beyond any hope. Once confined to a life incarcerated, it’s no surprise that hope disappears, as does any sense of time and being and self. Cajoled, coerced and confined into a life of silence, people become non-people and the hopelessness institutionalized by the naming and the treatment becomes a self fulfilling prophesy, an oppression.
Since the first use of the term, clinicians observed that people whom they have so labelled do not recover. Maybe that’s because they only ever get to see the people made chronic by their “treatment”. Clinicians who only see sick people think everyone is sick and that they stay sick – because that’s what they see for themselves. People who do find their way to wellness and go on living their life invariably don’t go back to see their doc- they stay as far away as possible.
And, of course when we share a story of someone who has recovered – these same clinicians spout their usual retort “well of course they were probably incorrectly diagnosed [by some other clinician, of course] in the first place”.
Coming from the profession that appoints itself in charge of judging that people “lack insight”, that’s pretty rich.
“Schizophrenia” was constructed as a hypothesis – an honest attempt by clinicians to describe and categorise what they were observing. Thing is they were only observing what they could observe within the walls of institutions designed to incarcerate people who they’d already deemed were without hope, unable to ever get well. Well you would, wouldn’t you?
In other branches of science we have know for over a hundred years about “relativity” – what we observe is relative to the position we view it from. Viewed from a different place – or a different set of assumptions- whatever we observe looks quite different.
Doc, you need to get out more.
Psychiatric diagnosis – more properly called “classification” [as it is in the ICD ] is a closed system, perfectly designed to confirm the assumptions of the person making the assumptions – circular logic given the pretence of “science-yness” – immune and insulated from external influence.
That people suffer is undoubted, that they suffer because they have a thing called “schizophrenia” is pure codswallop.
That some people find themselves struggling in life, unable to sleep, confused, have difficulty making and keeping relationships, managing the sense of overwhelm, overpowered by emotions, difficult memories and flashbacks, the crushing exhaustion that comes with all that, dealing with a lifetime of abuse, oppression – lost, stuck, discarded, labelled, called names, and told “you’d be better off with cancer”…
That is all very real.
If you were treated like that how would you feel?
We can call a person’s struggle by many names, but calling it by a name built on assumptions that it is because they have a thing that doesn’t exist but that having it means they will spend the rest of their days in virtual prison and treated as less than human, that’s just bollocks.
“Schizophrenia” is a story – of the worst kind
What limits our freedom is the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell each other…
Schizophrenia is a story of the worst kind – a stereotype.
Constructed as a sellable story – a plausibly sciencey sounding story that a person struggles because they have a debilitating, irreversible brain disease, faulty genes or wobbly brain chemicals; with no hope of recovery; the person and their family henceforth condemned and completely depended on others telling them what’s wrong and what they must do, must not do, must believe and must not believe, and for the rest of their lives…
That’s bollocks – was there ever anything that was more bollocks?
Certainly on a list of “most bollocks things ever”, its pretty near the top.
“Schizophrenia” is nothing more than a stereotype.
Called a “diagnosis” yet fails to meet the standard of what constitutes a valid medical diagnosis. It even falls some way short of qualifying as a syndrome. As so often happens with psychiatry, diagnosis is often confused with classification.
So what is it?
Well, it’s a stereotype – and like most stereotypes, a harmful one.
If it were you or me who’d come up with it we’d likely be forced to take drugs or be electrocuted til comfortably numb-enough and sufficiently brain-zapped that we could let it go.
Here’s how a couple of Professors of Psychiatry – characterize it:
“A number of symptoms that have been collected together and given a name. “
“That is how our classification system works. We don’t know enough to diagnose real diseases, so we use a system of symptom based classification.”
– Dr Jim van Os; Prof. Psychiatry Maastricht U
“Because we don’t have the pathology we can’t say what’s going on in the brain, the mind,or whatever, we try and find the symptoms and cluster the symptoms together and we say we’ve got ‘this diagnosis’ or ‘that diagnosis’ and schizophrenia is a number of symptoms that have been put together to say that ‘this is an illness’.”
“That’s an idea, that’s not a thing”
– Dr Kwame McKenzie. Prof Psychiatry; U of Toronto
We use the “schizo” terms to convince ourselves and convince each other that we know what we are talking about and that we are talking about a uniform phenomenon. This is a pretence, a delusion.
Yet, what characterises this motley, unloved, unwanted and feared collection of symptoms, experiences and outcomes?
From Jim van Os again..
Extreme variability is the primary characteristic –
- Extreme variability of experience, symptoms.
- Extreme variability from person to person, day to day, even moment to moment within the same day.
- Extreme variability in prognosis. [likely outcome for a given treatment]
- Extreme variability in response to treatment.
That’s pretty random – in a list of things with the most extreme variability that’d be pretty near the top.
Strange, then, how services run by people claiming to be experts in things “mental health” respond by pretending that it is a thing; a sciencey thing no less; and a sciencey thing that they are learned experts in and about which they, and only they, know everything there is to know.
And they say we’re deluded….
- Connecting to madness – Jim van Os https://recoverynet.ca/2015/11/02/connecting-to-madness-jim-van-os/
- “Schizophrenia”- an idea, not a thing https://recoverynet.ca/2015/09/08/schizophrenia-an-idea-not-a-thing/
- Schizophrenia does not exist https://www.schizofreniebestaatniet.nl/english/
- Schizophrenia does not exist – BMJ
Sadly the full article is behind paywall but you can get free 14day trial.
From BMJ 02.Feb.2016http://www.mj.com/content/352/bmj.i375.long
“Schizophrenia” does not exist
Disease classifications should drop this unhelpful description of symptoms.
BMJ 2016; 352 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i375 (Published 02 February 2016)Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i375
Jim van Os, full professor and chair, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, Netherlands
In March 2015 a group of academics, patients, and relatives published an opinion piece in a national newspaper in the Netherlands, proposing that we drop the “essentially contested”1 term “schizophrenia,” with its connotation of hopeless chronic brain disease, and replace it with something like “psychosis spectrum syndrome.”2
We launched two websites (www.schizofreniebestaatniet.nl/english/ and http://www.psychosenet.nl) aimed at informing the public about the nature of psychotic illness and helping patients deal with pervasive, unscientifically pessimistic, organic views of their symptoms. The timing was no coincidence.
Several recent papers by different authors have called for modernised psychiatric nomenclature, particularly regarding the term “schizophrenia.”3 4 5 6 Japan and South Korea have already abandoned this term.
The classification of mental disorders, as laid down in ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision) and DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders …
Longer piece from