Schizophrenia – Not an Illness

Late adolescence and early adulthood is arguably the most difficult period of life.  Transitioning from childhood to adulthood entails many challenges.  The young person (male or female) is expected to emancipate successfully from parents; launch a career; and find a partner – all in the space of a few short years.

Some individuals cope remarkably well.  Others squeak through, and a small minority “crash and burn.”  The latter group usually return home.

The optimum response when we experience significant failure is to say something like:  “Well, I made a mess of that.  Clearly I have some serious skill deficits.  I need to remediate these promptly and try again.”  Unfortunately this kind of response is very rare, and it needs to be acknowledged that our culture makes the admission of failure very difficult.  We place such importance on success that failure in any area is almost the modern equivalent of the mortal sin.

So our hapless young person returns to the bosom of his family, who often have difficulty recognizing or understanding where the problem lies.  The skill deficits in question are usually in the social area (e.g. inability to engage in conversation; abrasiveness; etc.) or in the occupational area (e.g. resentment of authority figures; failure to follow directions; failure to see tasks to completion, etc.)  Often parents who have spent the past 20 or so years in close contact with the individual have become so accustomed to his “ways,” that they don’t see them as problems.

So they’re mystified as to what the difficulty is, and a measure of alienation inevitably develops.

The young person, for his part, hangs around the house playing parent-aggravating music, smoking pot, practicing yoga, writing great American novels, etc., etc.:  anything, in other words, but improve his skills and get on with the challenges of life.

Meanwhile, his existential challenge is to make some kind of sense of his life.  Unfortunately, most people in this predicament achieve this by blaming their parents.  “They don’t understand.”  “They don’t care about me.”  “They prefer my brother/sister,” etc…  Sometimes there’s a grain of truth in some of these assertions.  (No parents are perfect), and the grains of truth are routinely adduced as evidence of the “mistreatment.”  And once you’ve convinced yourself that your parents had it in for you, it’s a small step to extend this policy of malicious victimization to other players:  employers, colleagues, boy/girlfriends, etc..

The phenomenon we call paranoia always develops (in a most understandable way) from a profound sense of failure.  And the only successful treatment is regular doses of feelings of success, which can only come from actual successes.

So our young person is hanging around the house (or the streets) blaming others for his problems and getting nowhere with life.  At some point in this process he learns of a role that he is perfectly qualified to play – the role of mental health patient.  This doesn’t usually come as a flash of insight, out of the blue, so to speak, but typically is introduced to the individual piecemeal by various agents – peers, family, caseworkers, even police.

Now I’m not suggesting that the individual says: “Ha!  That’s it, I’ll become a mental health patient.  That’s the life for me.”

The fact is that we all find roles in life, and these roles develop around us in subtle, barely-noticed ways.  When we take a job, for instance, we get drawn into a role, much of which is defined by the culture of the organization.  Similarly when a couple has their first child, they get drawn into the role of parenthood.  The point is that the context in which we find ourself elicits actions from us in various subtle ways.  And mental health patient is one of the options available to the young person described above.

Schizophrenia is not an illness, but rather a role that people can adopt when they feel overwhelmed by a sense of failure.  I have written extensively on these topics before.

What brings the matter to mind again is an article dated November 2012 in the Schizophrenia Bulletin titled:  The Myth of Schizophrenia as a Progressive Brain Disease.  The authors, Robert B. Zipursky, Thomas J. Reilly,and Robin M. Murray,  are all psychiatrists.  The gist of the article is clear from the title.

Their primary conclusion is:

 “Thus, the idea that schizophrenia is a progressive brain disease is not supported by the weight of longitudinal neuroimaging and cognitive studies, and it is not consistent with what is now known about the clinical course of schizophrenia. It is important for optimum clinical care that the idea that underlying schizophrenia there exists an intrinsically malignant process be reconsidered. It has contributed to an undue pessimism among mental health professionals and their consequent alienation from sufferers and their representatives, who increasingly advocate for the ‘recovery model.’”

The authors marshal compelling arguments and detailed research findings to support their conclusion, and the article is well worth reading.

Another article worth looking at is:  Time to Abolish Psychiatric Diagnosis? by Lucy Johnstone.  This is on Robert Whitaker’s website Mad in America.  Lucy is a British Psychologist.  Here’s a quote:

 “‘Diagnosing’ someone with a devastating label such as ‘schizophrenia’ or ‘personality disorder’ is one of the most damaging things one human being can do to another.”

Both articles are challenging the illness explanation of the behavior labeled schizophrenia.  And both articles stress the damage that the illness approach entails.

They are also noteworthy in that up to a few years ago they would never have seen the light of day.  Today, the spurious psychiatric illness model is under increasing scrutiny and attack.

I strongly recommend these two articles.

  • Nice one! =)

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for the encouraging words.

  • Sweet63

    I am struck by the role of drugs, illicit and otherwise, in the disintegration of these young people’s personalities. Sylvia Plath wrote in the Bell Jar of taking her mother’s sleeping pills by the handful…was it any surprise she went off the deep end again and again? The reader sees it, but the subject and her therapists do not. And she was well on her way to a writing career.

    The experts act as if taking drugs were a mere symptom of some Deep Underlying Problem. Yeah: life! Getting launched, dealing with a multiplicity of choices and chances. Even Betty Friedan wrote that the average college girl of her day was certifiably psychotic. She attributed it to her particular bogeyman, but I think it’s just that the ages of 18-21 constitute such a poignant crossroads, and it’s so easy to run into the ditch.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in; it’s always nice to hear from you. Your comments resonate loudly. It is easy to go in the ditch. I think that the mental health centers, as originally conceived back in the 60’s, might have been places where young people in trouble could have obtained some genuine help in the form of support, coaching, empathy, etc.. Now, tragically, just more drugs. And the deeper the young person goes in the ditch, the more likely it is that he/she will receive pharmaceuticals – sometimes involuntarily.

    Once again, thanks for such an empathic comment, and best wishes.

  • Sweet63

    Huh, this is interesting

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for the reference. Peter Breggin, although he is a psychiatrist himself, has been an outspoken critic of the “pill-for-every-problem” doctrine for years. He wrote Talking Back to Prozac.

    Best wishes.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming in; it’s always nice to hear from you. Your comments resonate loudly. It is easy to go in the ditch. I think that the mental health centers, as originally conceived back in the 60’s, might have been places where young people in trouble could have obtained some genuine help in the form of support, coaching, empathy, etc.. Now, tragically, just more drugs. And the deeper the young person goes in the ditch, the more likely it is that he/she will receive pharmaceuticals – sometimes involuntarily.

    Once again, thanks for such an empathic comment, and best wishes.

  • lonewolf

    I posted this in a discussion forum for siblings of family members labeled “schizophrenic”. You might hear quite a bit of Phil in my post. His work and writings have been a profound influence on me. So thank you Phil for your hard work, perseverance, and love of truth.

    Here is my post:

    I’ve read a lot of posts on here and as a brother of someone who has been labeled “schizophrenic” I can certainly relate to everyone’s frustrations, anxiety, and torment of dealing with a family member that acts in this way. It’s been over a decade for me dealing with my brother’s behaviour. My younger brother lives at home with my mom. He smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day, that my mother buys for him. He drinks alcohol whenever he can. He lives there without a job, rent free. My mother does his laundry and feeds him, while he terrorizes her.

    I will explain how I conceptualize the behaviour of people labeled “schizophrenic”. It has helped me greatly in giving me understanding but most importantly, in reducing my fear, and giving me hope. I hope it does the same for you. Keep in mind that there is no scientific evidence for “schizophrenia” despite pharmaceutical companies claiming they are “oh so close!”. They have claimed obtusely that it is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. When questioned as to which chemical is out of balance, and to what degree it is out of balance, and how exactly do they measure the chemical levels in a brain, they shrug their shoulders in embarrassment.

    We need to realize that the world is a very complex place. Civilization and society are so complex that many years of education and training are required to navigate through it successfully. There are many that simply do not get the training they are supposed to get. Some parents might be harder on one of their children and will provide sufficient training and those children go on to become independent adults. Other siblings may not get that same training. What happens unfortunately to these children is that at around the age when they should be emancipating themselves from their parents, embarking on a career, and meeting sexual partners, they lack the skills and confidence to do so. Coincidentally, these years are also the years that “schizophrenia” mysteriously appears.

    All things that are born are born wild. To me, wild is beautiful. Wild is uninhibited, impulsive, and spontaneous. However, civilized society requires that we suppress our wildness. We go through training in which we become socialized and tame. The process is difficult. As a child, realizing that the world does not revolve around me, that I have to share and be considerate of others, etc. are all painful and hard lessons to learn. A lot of spanking, crying, and frustration we all have to go through, to become socialized.

    What happens when a parent hasn’t taught a child these lessons? And gives in to the child every time it throws a temper tantrum? The child will remain in that childlike state. Never progressing. Wanting instant gratification. But instead of a being a small manageable child, they are now a fully grown adult, with much greater strength.

    What our troubled family members need is life coaching, learning the skills needed for living, confidence building, and basically the training they should have received as little children. BUT, the most important thing is that the training needs to be in an environment where a system of punishment and reward can be implemented. If you are a sibling of a someone like this, and they still live at home with a parent, the parent is providing them with food, shelter, and money. You as a sibling cannot train them for they are not in a environment where you can subject them to any punishment. This is the key. Any kind of behaviour modification requires a system of punishment and reward. If they are living in your home, and you can threaten them with an eviction, or no money, then help can take place.

    Real help is hard. I know that it would require years of intense effort to help my brother out. There is no magic pill, there is no magic therapy session. Only love can help our family members. And love is more than just saying the word. Love is genuine helping and it is hard work.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for coming back. You always have interesting things to say. I love the sentence: “All things that are born are born wild.”

    You may get some flak on your forum – but as you say, it is hard work. Best wishes.

  • ramses

    i fully agree that psychiatry is a form of social control. But i also think that there are certain infections that manifest in the brain an can cause strange behaviour. None of these two groups of people are getting better with the intake of neurotoxic drugs.
    What I really cannot accept is the idea that that it is the lack of coping skills in regards to failure. So the person’s enviroment is not culpable?
    Isn’t that what psychiatry is redirecting the attention from. The fact that inequallity impears your abillity? In a direct line with the meritocratic society.
    Some people do not grow up in the enviroment that promotes social mobility.
    In fact the idea that parents can help there children preform better is far from the truth. An idiot can not steer a genius to the right position in a society.
    And this is true for any level of difference between people’s abillities for intelligent thinking.
    Harsh but true. I am writing this because I’ve have seen these things and sometimes experienced them. For example. Throwing somebody out on the street at 18 years. Because of anger. Being a male en in between 15 and 25 years old( the latter is the real age of adulthood) makes you prone to anger. In this case i must admit there is personal failure. (But I know other stories where a person is victimized by the enviroment, by no fault of his own, no inabillity to accept personal failure, by sabotaging lies and deprivement of quality education at 12 years old). Young people at 18 years are seen as fully accountable. But there is little difference between 16 of 18 years.
    At 18 however, they are considerd adults and treated as such.
    They are impulsive by nature and negative commenting has the same response as pain.
    Another thing is that in my country university is not so expensive. But here lies an obstacle. We have to choose at 12 years old. Our subjects at school. Latin or regular. In 2010 a rapport is published by a university linking a choice that people make at 12 years old to their chances of succesfully aquiring a university degree. I said what I wanted at 12 years, parents and company decided otherwhise. At 19 I have not tried and failed because of underdevelopped abillity the accept failure. I started as an A student and as soon as the quality of education went down my performing skills where also getting down. This didn’t stop my parents from putting the blame on me. Are there many people under the age of 20 being able to afford private education because the school system and the parents couldn’t wait to let them down. Besides you are living the lie. Nobody stands on your side in the knowledge that your surroundings are sabotaging your future. Preposterous,impossible.

  • ramses

    To make it clear. These examples are of people that have been regarded as mentally ill. And when I refer to the inabillity to accept failure it must be noted that failing is (in this case ) equal to the labeling of mental illnes. Otherwise it makes no sense.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for your two comments.

    For me, the crucial points are:

    1. Damage to the brain can indeed cause “crazy” behavior.

    2. Damage can come from various sources, including trauma, toxin, and germs (including germs from cat litter).

    3. But “crazy” behavior can arise in the absence of any actual brain damage. In the posts Schizophrenia Parts 1, 2 and 3, I try to outline how this can happen.

    4. There is no evidence to support the view that all (or even most) “crazy” behavior is caused by brain damage, though modern psychiatry continues to insist otherwise.

    5. In my experience, almost all the individuals who carry a “diagnosis” of schizophrenia have experienced profound failure in early adulthood. The failure is usually in a first job or first serious relationship, and usually occurs after the individual has left home. The failure usually occurs because the individual lacks a skill needed to succeed. Examples of these skill deficits include: poor ability to get along with peers; poor ability to accept direction from boss; poor anger control; lack of self-confidence; excessive self-confidence; lack of critical self-scrutiny; inability to make friends; inability to resist peer pressure; social disagreeableness; laziness; self-deception; etc., etc., etc…One could extend this list almost indefinitely – poor budgeting; poor household skills, etc., etc.. As to why the individual has these skill deficits, here again, the reasons are almost infinite. He may be setting his sights too high or too low. His parents may have set standards that were too high for his ability, or too low for his ability. He, or his parents, may have been using alcohol or other drugs during his childhood. He may have been traumatized in any of several different ways.

    The point here is that there are as many ways to fail as there are to succeed; and as many reasons to fail as there are reasons to succeed.

    Sometimes individuals blame their parents for their failures; others blame themselves. Sometimes parents blame their children, other times parents blame themselves. Personally, I don’t think blaming is usually helpful. The point is to help the individual reach the point where he can honestly accept that he lacks certain necessary skills, and to provide him the support, help, coaching, etc., that he needs. This is what should happen in the mental health centers, but seldom does. Instead, he is given drugs, which although they may damp down the behavioral outbursts, have no impact on the real problem, and usually do an enormous amount of damage in the long run.

    6. Almost all of the brain damage found in these individuals is the result of long-term ingestion of major tranquilizers. I know of no evidence of proven brain damage in these individuals prior to the ingestion of major tranquilizers.

    By all means feel free to come back.

    Best wishes.

  • ramses

    Mr Hickey
    It is clear to me that you understand the problem. And I have been thinking of a an idea. Not just for the purpose of a reply.
    What does it say about an authority when another authority is accepted even if the second one (psychiatry in this case) does not deliver the burden of evidence for it’s pracitce. When this can not be provided the authority is illegitimate. I often ask myself if this is a transferabel property.
    One can argue that it is due to a lack of insight. I sometimes think that the powers that be want to keep this option open. To drug and lock away as an alternative to help. When the cost of helping and everything this includes is placed next to the cost of paying for hospitalbeds, honoraria and medication there might even be a decrease surfacing. What could be the motivation to maintain this practice? Because there is little to none opposition from the rest of the scientific world, the medical profession, politics. I think there are two options. Ignorance or intent.
    It is really difficult for me to imagine that people who are payed a lot of money and even all the rest are not able to see behaviour for what it is.The ability to concentrate and administer self-control are limited. This is sometimes refered to as ego-depletion. Social problems feel like pain. There is no distinction in the brain. Controling pain requires concentration and self-control. People soon rung out. So it is difficult to plan, set goals and supress negative behaviour when you are experiencing social problems and or a strong limit to your social mobility. Combined with being young and male, so impulsiveness and anger, there is an instant apparance of he “symptoms” of psychosis.
    The policy seems to be to ignore this relation. And the public opinion rests.
    Even though everybody has this experience of ego- depletion.
    I am not disagreeing with what you are saying. And it would be presumptive to say that this is a clarification of the subject
    One can argue though that these situations are created by outside sources. Like bad choices. As I wrote in the previous. Having to make life determining choices at 12. No possiblilties of rectification when wrong choices are made. In our school system there is the idea of changing this to 14 years. In Finland they choose at 16. Although nothing changes if the students do not make the choice themselves. A number of the reasons why people fail are build into the system.
    I think that the symptoms of psychosis and the concequences of social problems are much the same.
    The idea that on outside source like the construct of your society is the cause of this is regarded as being a clear symptom of psychosis.
    Also there is an aversion to the idea that the race is fixed. That the competition to aquire a certain position would have been more fierce. Unfair competition. People do really not like this idea. It is so that not everybody has the same abilities but talented persons being blindsided doesn’t deliver any benefits for society. Most of us could be doing a lot better. It doesn’t help that people see one another as competitors.
    And there is a lot of resistance to change.

  • Phil_Hickey


    You make excellent points. I also have wondered why the medical profession generally does not speak out against psychiatry. Some doctors do, of course, but most are willing to turn a blind eye, though I’m sure that they recognize many of the same concerns you mention.

    You mention the onus on children to make major life decisions at age 12, and this is valid, but there are a great many reasons why people experience failure in early adulthood. And yes, many of these reasons boil down to the fact that life isn’t fair. Truly dreadful things happen to a great many people during their formative years, and perhaps the remarkable thing is that people survive these incidents as well as they do.

    There is a tendency to accept life’s unfairness as inevitable – sort of like gravity – and I think this is a mistake. I think there is an obligation on all of us individually and through whatever organizations we belong to (including countries, states, and counties) to do what we can to remediate these disparities.

    Of course there are moves in this direction, but obviously
    we have a long way to go.

    Again, thanks for coming in. And do keep speaking out and writing. It is the individual contributions of all of us that constitute the driving force for change.

  • ssenerch

    Dr. Hickey,

    While I believe you understand the problem in a way that many or most mental health professionals, amazingly, do not, your tone in this article seems a bit jeering, negative, and lacking in compassion. You talk about people in these sensitive, vulnerable situations needing successes; do you think your tone here which borders on implying that they are lazy, not self-responsible, childish, and will gladly take the “cop-out” of the mental-health-patient-identity (perhaps there are some who are, but many want to avoid that identity and fate like the plague, as they can think of no more damning mark of failure) is conducive to encouraging someone who is so strung-out emotionally at this point, so sensitive to failure and weakness, to think positively of him or herself and his or her prospects for success?

    “Meanwhile, his existential challenge is to make some kind of sense of
    his life. Unfortunately, most people in this predicament achieve this
    by blaming their parents. “They don’t understand.” “They don’t care
    about me.” “They prefer my brother/sister,” etc… Sometimes there’s a
    grain of truth in some of these assertions. (No parents are perfect),
    and the grains of truth are routinely adduced as evidence of the

    Excuse me, but what if there is more than a “grain” of truth to these statements and feelings? Do you think the person necessarily has no sense of reality and merely just pulled these feelings and impressions out of his or her behind? You do understand the problem of “SZ” to a great extent but I think you could do with a larger dose of respect for the people grappling with these life-or-death situations and their intense struggles, AND a greater understanding of the reasons behind their perceptions and feelings.

    For a more respectful, understanding, and compassionate (and thus, *healing*) description of the nature of these problems and what is needed to “cure” them, I would suggest psychologist Ty Colbert’s books, if you are not already familiar with them. For example, check out the story of “Jake” in chapter 7 of Colbert’s “Depression and Mania: Friends or Foes?”

    In a world where extremely emotionally sensitive/vulnerable (and often mistreated or neglected) people are routinely subject to further trauma, neglect, +/or abuse and are struggling against the odds to survive, I really think the contributions of mental health professionals, at the very least, should not be to further the idea that we can blame and/or make fun of “mental health patients” for their struggles and failures. Rather we should be seeking to understand and support them as much as possible, since this can make all the difference in the world between success and failure.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thank you for coming back.

    I’m sorry that you found my tone in the article to be “jeering, negative, and lacking in compassion.” There was certainly no such intention, and I will endeavor to guard against such perceptions in my future writings.

    Once again, thanks, and best wishes.

  • ssenerch

    Thank you, Dr. Hickey, I really appreciate that.

    Subject: Re: New comment posted on Schizophrenia – Not an Illness

  • Lee Jamison

    Any degree of imperfect “parenting” can develop a baby/child into an adult who could begin to display what appears to be odd or abnormal “symptoms;” this, by the adult facing the many challenges of our dysfunctional society; all of which, can collectively traumatize, and later fragment, emotions of the human brain. Empathy and compassion care, 24/7 if needed, can solidify the flow of emotions to within a range of normalcy; this, even more so, due the deep wisdom obtained through such an inward frightful journey.

  • cledwyn bulbs

    “…paranoia always develops from a profound sense of failure.”

    With all due respect (and asides from the fallacy of particularism this comment displays), we should be careful not to fall prey to the error, common in individualistic/narcissistic (not that I’m a collectivist) societies, of expressing opinions in an arrogant, apodeictic manner.

    When I bring this up with someone, they usually respond with a non-sequitur, saying something like “of course it is my opinion”, but if something is an opinion, and not fact, the language we use should reflect this, although we are all guilty of this, so don’t take it personally.

    I disagree with the statement. A lot of people who are paranoid, I would surmise, have every reason to be paranoid. The articulation of the fear and suspicion of others may be paranoid, but many people are nevertheless right to be fearful of others, such as the homeless, who are routinely treated like shit (most people, victim-hating just-worlders that they are, seem to think of the cosmos as being organized around some sort of principle of cosmic justice, prosperity and happiness being the rewards of a good life, misery and poverty a bad life, which are little more than the products of human stupidity and arrogance). So I would say that in such cases the environment itself is often the incubator of paranoia.

    This line of reasoning (that is, of blaming the patient) is common amongst critics. The critics of psychiatry generally tend to use such reasoning to bridge the perspectival gulf separating them from the objects of their study, and to give the illusion of understanding where I believe there often is none, only a desire to locate the source of extreme distress within the patient, in accordance with the prevailing Zeitgeist, as well as to deny the perspective of others, perspectives which are usually in conflict with our own and for that reason must be suppressed.

    It’s very easy for the average man to convince himself that society is just and constitutes a safe environment. Most people fit in, and internalize the values, ideals, norms, and rules of society, which affords a kind of protective coloration, allowing one to escape the attention of predators.

    Yet society is Janus-faced; it has two faces, two contrasting aspects. The principles of collective psychology often conforming to those of individual psychology, the same can be said of individuals. Just like an individual has a different face that he shows to his friends to the ones he shows to his enemies, the same can be said of society.

    People who are respected and who fit in to society only ever see the friendly face of a society, which is why they struggle to comprehend the fear and hostility of those who, usually for no good reason, are not respected, those people for whom some aspect of their appearance or identity polarizes the majority against them; those from whose ranks sacrificial scapegoats are selected; those who are considered the legitimate prey of Hydra, because they look “funny”, the deformed, the handicapped, racial and ethnic minorities, “madmen”, “freaks”, and any others the reader can think of.

  • Phil_Hickey


    Thanks for the correction. My statement was indeed phrased in an overly inclusive and over-certain way. I should have said” in my experience” or something like that.

    And also, of course, a good many people have indeed been, and continue to be, victimized – so their “paranoia” is an appropriate and adaptive response to their environment. The world can indeed be a savage place.

    Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    I think a profound feeling of “unsafety” is what breeds “paranoia”. Existential unsafety. And the experiences that made a person feel profoundly unsafe will often wind up as just the start of a list of thousands of terrifying worries and fears that get added onto the initial unsafety. Nice find, Hickey was being way too wrong here, and it’s good that Hickey has amended it.

  • Lauren Hammer

    That’s weird, both my brother and dad are schizophrenic. Both of them will deny to the brutal end that they are what the doctors diagnosed them with. Both were in their late twenties when they started having auditory hallucinations and paranoid episodes. My dad was a millionaire, was married to my mom who is a gorgeous intelligent woman when his symptoms started to persist, and lost everything because he lost touch with reality. My brother worked at NBC in NY and was very successful, and almost married a wonderful woman but also lost everything. His symptoms are not conditional. My brother keeps on getting kicked out of houses, because of intolerance of apartment complexes. He also continues to lose jobs because he can’t stop talking back to the voices and people don’t know how to handle it. He tries so hard, but his mind messes with him. Finally he found a job were he doesn’t have to deal with people. He has never been without work, its just hard for him to keep them. How do you guys explain that?

  • Anon

    Since you’re all about identifying patterns in what is similar between your father and brother, here’s one for you… both of them have never had their brains proven diseased by a physician. You’re calling people out for “losing touch with reality”. Your “reality” is one in which being a “millionaire working at NBC married to a gorgeous intelligent woman” = “health”, and “losing money and being deeply troubled in life” = “an illness”. I suppose if two people in your family had a rough divorce you’d think that was a “disease” too huh? Gosh darn imagine if they both got divorced in their “late 20s”, that would just be the ultimate proof that this divorce disease runs in the family wouldn’t it?

  • Phil_Hickey


    I think the points made by Anon in response to your comment are very apt.

    With regards to your question – “How do you guys explain that?” – I have to stress that without knowing a great deal more about your father and your brother, I wouldn’t even begin to speculate as to the reasons for their actions. This is my general stance with regards to all human activity, and is in marked contrast to the spurious psychiatric diagnosing – where “explanations” are routinely given on the basis of minimal information.

    Most psychiatrists, for instance, would, I think, state with a good measure of confidence that your family members behave as they do because they have a “mental Illness” called schizophrenia. But if you subject this to even a little scrutiny, you’ll see that it’s invalid.

    Question: Why does my father/brother behave in such a crazy way?
    Answer: Because he has an illness called schizophrenia.
    Question: How do you know he has this illness?
    Answer: Because he behaves in such a crazy manner.

    There really is nothing more to it than that. The only evidence for the explanation is the very behavior it purports to explain.

    Many psychiatrists have tried to circumvent this logical fallacy by inventing “chemical imbalances” and “neural circuit anomalies,” but there is no evidence that all – or even most – of the people “diagnosed” with schizophrenia have anything wrong with their brains prior to the ingestion of neuroleptic drugs.

    Best wishes.

  • K. Fraser

    I have gained so much from reading all your posts. I mother of a young man going through what I would call a deep transformative process who hears voices and has unusual thoughts. He had a dysfunctional father who was a Narcissist. I see something in their family mentioned here that is beyond my comprehension. I heard my ex mother-in-law say to my ex husband once, when he had just landed the “Calvin Klien Man” modeling contract that gives me insight into the dynamics which contributed to my son’s symptoms. She said to him at the dinner table, “You’ll never be as famous as me.”.
    He had this same competitiveness with my two sons. My eldest, who was academically gifted, just won the USA championship in Ballroom and makes a lot of money doing what he loves having navigated well through those difficult years 15-21. Whereas my youngest diagnosed with Dyslexia/ADD was always compared to his brother by my ex-husband..

    Now that my younger son has been involuntarily committed for a year, been to jail (only due to his illusions), and has much cognitive damage to his working, memory, executive function, and now has severe Poverty of Speech, and is often disoriented to place, I can see the good doctor’s point in my own life.

    Yes my father’s brother had Schizophrenia, but my very sweet younger son’s profound sense of failure is driving the progression his illness. It is so heartbreaking to never see him smile. He lives with a constant overwhelming feeling of impending disaster that his brain tries to solve with delusions and it is unrelieved by medication. Boy does he feel like an outcast in that family now.

    Even though his father was only 40 minutes away he never called nor visited him in the hospital in over a year. He views him as damaged goods and since he sees them only as an extension of himself, that reflects poorly on him. Never mind that his father was a dead beat Dad who hid the large amounts of cash he was making in foreign accounts, and who deserted us (when the boys were 4 and 6) to sleaze his way across Europe for many years wining and dining supermodels, and developing quite serious Cocaine addiction in the process.

    Although my younger son achieved one of his dreams – being featured on a two page pull out cover of Surfer Magazine flying vertically down a 15 foot wave at the most treacherous, Pipeline, he can no longer surf. He obsesses about fears that a sniper will shoot him from shore (part of the team of gangsters and their evil empire who persecute him) while he is sitting out in the line up, so he can’t even surf anymore. The one thing he excelled at is gone.

    With such severe cognitive (oxidative) damage from high levels of fear, and trauma upon life trauma and perhaps even a sexual assault in prison, I can’t even reach in to help him pull out his strengths so he can start to come out of the darkness he is in. He can’t even dial a phone anymore, so if he gets lost he can fall prey to predators as he did mentally disabled and locked in a cell with the worst scum of the earth. A fight he got in, in self defense, (who knows the extent of what happened to him) was the precipitating incident to an episode of catatonia in which he stopped eating for two months, losing 50 lbs and becoming catatonic and drooling in a solitary cell. I have never seen my beloved fearless son since. He has never recovered. He still thinks an invisible man (a gangster) sprays battery acid on his food and cannot sit down and eat. The only way he can eat is to walk by my plate and take a bite, because evidently the gangsters have some honor so they wouldn’t poison his mother.
    This is a long sad story of a lost boy I know, but what I want to say, is Dr.Phil that a mother knows her child. Even in nursing school they taught us that a mother knows her baby. “So if the mother calls you to her child’s hospital room”, our professors said, “and says there is something wrong with my baby”, believe her, because she’s probably right. I know with all my heart that my son’s Schizophrenia, (although a genetic predisposition likely existed) was caused by a cruel, competitive critical, Narcissistic father figure, (and society) and the profound sense of failure and shame he feels.

    Thank you Dr. I happen to think you are right on the money.. I’m so sad that you are retired. I would permanently, if necessary, move from Hawaii, where my ancestors have been since 900 AD, and follow you to the ends of the earth, so that you could work with my son.

  • Phil_Hickey

    K. Fraser,

    Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear of your son’s sad story.

  • Bernard Parsons

    That’s me alright!

  • John Jones

    Inability to deal with it. Plenty of men fought mental illness in their lives and never let it define them.

    Plus toxic people make people breakdown faster. If your family is one of the Toxic kinds, then males and females are going to end up mentally ill.

  • Ana Maria De La Guardia

    That is the most stupid answer i have ever heard

  • Ana Maria De La Guardia

    That is also a stupid answer

  • all too easy

    “I mother of a young man going through what I would call a deep transformative process who hears voices and has unusual thoughts. He had a dysfunctional father who was a Narcissist.” K. Fraser

    Where, pray tell, is the peer-reviewed data revealing a bio-marker substantiating your claim that your husband was a narcissist, that narcissism even exists? Got nuthin!

  • all too easy

    There are any number of safe, effective medications that could relieve your severe paranoia you might find helpful. Curbing some of that terror would be useful to launch a new life with a tad of human-size pleasure wrapped up inside. Dwelling in ego-driven self-pity, terror and glorifying yourself gets old, doesn’t it? Variety, Paladapus, is the spice of life. You can put the gun down, the unloaded one aimed at your head, and discover mixing with people can be fun. You are very special without having to prove it. Each human being is a unique blend of characteristics. Letting go of your fear of being merely as clever as anyone else is the beginning of freedom.

  • Rob Bishop

    Narcissism is an ego-driven arrogant self-centered obsession with oneself. Do you know anyone like that?

  • doppelganger

    “safe, effective” psychiatric medications, you say? Now THAT is hilarious!! Pay attention, birdbrain. Psychiatric DRUGS are neither “safe,” nor are they “medications.” Only a gullible half-wit would believe, for example, that methamphetamine is somehow magically transformed into a “safe medication” by virtue of a mediciney-sounding brand name.

    Check this out – a methamphetamine named Desoxyn (for the “treatment” of the fake disorder ADHD). But don’t be fooled by the sciencey name. This is some nasty shit.

    “Side” effects include:
    * “new psychotic symptoms” and
    * “stroke and heart attack”

    Take a hike, meth head.

  • doppelganger