Creating A Mental Illness Called Schizophrenia

Subtitled “A brief history of an archetypal psychiatric diagnosis”, this article by Dr. John Read has been published in Psychology Today. It begins:

“During the pandemic, increased incidences of distress can be portrayed as proliferations of mental illnesses such as ‘Depressive Disorder’ and ‘Anxiety Disorder.’ Alternatively, we can talk about our fears, worries, griefpessimism, and despondency as understandable reactions to the general crisis and to our personal losses, actual and anticipated.

I prefer the latter framework. It locates the origin of our problems in the reality of our social contexts, rather than implying that there is some defect in us as individuals, in our genes or brains. Research shows that increased anxiety and depression during the pandemic is predicted by obvious social factors like loss of income and having children at home.1 Yet our mental health services, and research, remain dominated by the medical-model approach, which calls the labels it uses ‘diagnoses.’

Perhaps we should revisit the creation of the archetypal psychiatric diagnosis—schizophrenia—to understand how we went from understanding that depression, for example, is caused, for all of us, by depressing things happening, to the notion that depression is caused by some of us having something biologically dysfunctional inside of us called ‘depressive disorder’ …”

You can read more from here.

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