THE LETTER 55 & 56 Spring/Summer 2014, pages 75-79.
Based on published research, the views of service users, as well as clinical experience, this paper critiques the concept of schizophrenia. It will highlight: the failure of the emergence of a biological explanation for schizophrenia; the ‘myth’ of antipsychotics; the heterogeneity of ‘psychosis’ in the real world; psychosis as just another form of psychological stress. Our summary view is that schizophrenia is too broad a term to be useful and that there are many patients with this diagnosis being treated with a pharmacological approach rather than a psychological one. We propose an aetiological/narrative based model of psychosis ‘What happened to you?’ replacing a phenomenological one ‘What is wrong with you?’
Keywords: limit of medical model in psychosis treatment; anti-psychotics-misnomer?; trauma-related aetiology; service user movement
Thank you very much Barry and Patricia for inviting me to speak here today. I’d like to start with some reflections. I suppose firstly I regret waiting until my greying years to speak openly about what has been sitting with me for a long time. I regret deriding with all my superior medical arrogance those, including many of you here, who sought to see a greater meaning in all that we suffer, thereby, essentially rubbishing all that was not ‘biology’. I feel sadness that I have made, and indeed continue to make, many patients suffer with reductionist, ineffective and often coercive treatment. Finally, I’m fear-ful that my attempts to demolish, in just a few words, an entire world view, hitherto held very firmlyby me, may appear crass and over simplistic, but with that in mind I will proceed.