Childhood Social Functioning Predicts Adult Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder. Or Does It?

In November 2013, the journal Schizophrenia Research published a paper by Tsuji, T. et al. titled Premorbid teacher-rated social functioning predicts adult schizophrenia-spectrum disorder: A high-risk prospective investigation.  Here’s the abstract:

“Social functioning deficits are a core component of schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and may emerge years prior to the onset of diagnosable illness. The current study prospectively examines the relation between teacher-rated childhood social dysfunction and later mental illness among participants who were at genetic high-risk for schizophrenia and controls (n=244). The teacher-rated social functioning scale significantly predicted psychiatric outcomes (schizophrenia-spectrum vs. other psychiatric disorder vs. no mental illness). Poor premorbid social functioning appears to constitute a marker of illness vulnerability and may also function as a chronic stressor potentially exacerbating risk for illness.”

The study was done in Denmark by a Danish-American team, as part of a large scale longitudinal developmental study.  Studies of this sort are often done in Denmark, incidentally, because the Danes have a central mental health register and other data bases that facilitate the gathering of follow-up information.

The social functioning measure consisted of five items, each of which was rated on a five point scale.  The total score was obtained by adding the five individual item scores.  Lowest possible score was 5; highest possible score was 25.  The items were:

1. The child does not seem to take part when the rest of the class is having fun.
2. The child has no friends.
3. The child is often teased.
4. The child does not actively seek friends.
5. The child seems to avoid contact with other children.

Here are some more quotes, interspersed with my comments:

“Results suggest that, even though many psychiatric difficulties are associated with deteriorations in social functioning, teacher-rated social deficits among school-age children appear to represent a marker of vulnerability specific to disorders within the ‘family’ of schizophrenia spectrum illnesses. These findings highlight the value of teachers in identifying key markers of risk such as social deficits.”

In the abstract quoted earlier, the authors acknowledge that “social functioning deficits are a core component of schizophrenia spectrum disorders.” [Emphasis added]  With this in mind, it seems to me that the best and most parsimonious way to conceptualize the research finding is that children who have poor social skills will, in many cases, grow up to be adults with poor social skills.  In particular, there seems to me no justification (other than psychiatric dogmatism) to conceptualize the matter in medical terms, and to impose a medical framework – “a marker of vulnerability” – on the data.

“Thus, social functioning has emerged as an important area for researchers interested in the core features of emerging psychotic illness…”

Here again, note the assumption of an “emerging…illness.”

“…results from this 48-year longitudinal record suggest that children on a trajectory toward schizophrenia-spectrum disorders demonstrate interpersonal deficits early in life, and that teachers provide valuable information regarding children’s social functioning.”

Again, note the medical language:  children with poor social skills are “on a trajectory toward schizophrenia spectrum disorders.”  The term “on a trajectory” also entails an element of inevitability, implying that children with poor social skills become psychotic in the same way that people who inherit the Tay-Sachs gene get the disease.  Note also the identification of teachers as sources of “valuable information.”

A follow-up period of 48 years (1959-2007) is impressive in a longitudinal study, and it is likely that the findings will be afforded a high measure of credibility and status within the psychiatric community.  A Google search on May 14 for the title got 7,770 hits.  So the study is attracting attention.

In recent years, organized psychiatry has been actively promoting the notion of early intervention in schools and other settings for people who are considered “at risk” for acquiring a diagnosis of schizophrenia (e.g. here and here).  The DSM-5 workgroup promoted the “diagnosis” of attenuated psychosis syndrome, as a means of identifying teens considered to be “at risk,”  and this “diagnosis” is included in the manual as a specific example in the category:  “Other Specified Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorder 298.8” (p 122).

In this general context, a simple (5-item) teacher-completed social skills rating scale is likely to have considerable appeal.  For these reasons, it seems important to subject the study to some scrutiny.

SOCIAL SKILLS AND “SCHIZOPHRENIA”

Perhaps the study’s most significant shortcoming is the one already mentioned:  that poor social skills are in fact the primary defining feature of DSM-5’s “schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.”  The defining features of these psychiatric “diagnoses” are set out on pages 87 and 88 of the manual, and include the following, all of which fall, I suggest, under the heading of social skills deficits:

    • reduction in the expression of emotions in the face
    • showing little interest in…social activities
    • diminished speech output
    • lack of interest in social interactions
    • childlike silliness
    • lack of verbal…responses
    • staring
    • grimacing
    • mutism
    • echoing of speech
    • switching topics

Even delusions and hallucinations, the cornerstones of these “diagnoses,” are closely connected to social skills. A child who grows up with poor social skills is often victimized and bullied, and quickly learns that the “real” world is not usually a source of joy or reward.  The subsequent retreat into a private realm is not only understandable, but in many cases adaptive.

So when Tsuji et al. discovered, through their research, that children who are rated by their teachers as socially unskilled, have a better than average chance of attracting a “diagnosis” of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder in adulthood, all that they have found is that some individuals, who are socially unskilled as children, are socially unskilled in adulthood.  Poor social skills is an inherent component of the definition of “schizophrenia.”  The notion that this needs to be discovered as a “marker of vulnerability” is specious and misleading.

FALSE POSITIVES

The study write-up is sparse in both description and data, so it’s not possible to subject the numbers to serious scrutiny.  But it is clear that many of the participants who were rated poor on social skills during childhood grew up to have “no mental illness” in later life.  The authors do tell us that the “…[s]ocial functioning scores ranged from 6 to 25 with an overall sample mean of 20.83 (SD = 3.78).”  They also provide means and standard deviations for the three outcome groups.

chart 1 May 14

 

 

 

 

 

It should be noted that the above table does not appear in the text, but was created by me from data presented as run-on text in three separate sections of the paper.  (Higher scores mean better social functioning)

What’s immediately clear from this table is that there is considerable overlap in the social skills scores from the three outcome groups.  We can get an estimate of the range of the three groups from the standard deviations.  Most of the participants’ scores will lie in the range from two SD’s below the mean to two SD’s above the mean.  So we can calculate tentative score ranges as follows:  (The range for all scores was 6-25, so 25 is always the upper limit.)

Chart 2 May 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is reasonably certain that many of the low scorers in the NMI group scored below the mean of the schizophrenia spectrum group, and yet these individuals had never been assigned a mental illness “diagnosis” of any kind.  It’s not possible to say, based on the published data, what the absolute numbers were, but given that the NMI group is four times larger (133 vs. 33) than the spectrum group, it is entirely feasible that there were as many, or even more, individuals in the NMI group scoring below the “spectrum” mean (17.55) as there were in the spectrum group.  Using the spectrum mean (17.55) as a prognostic cutoff would have created the prediction that these individuals were on the so-called trajectory to a schizophrenia spectrum disorder.  But in fact they acquired no mental health “diagnoses” at all.  So using this social skills scale, or indeed any similar scale, is likely to “identify,” and target for psychiatric treatment, large numbers of individuals who in fact were “on a trajectory” to “no mental illness.”

And there’s another problem.  Of the 33 individuals who received a diagnosis of a schizophrenia spectrum disorder in adulthood, only 18 of these had been assigned a diagnosis of schizophrenia.  The remaining “diagnoses” were:

Psychosis NOS or delusional disorder                                    8

Schizotypal, paranoid, and schizoid personality disorder      7

The authors state that their decision to group these categories together was “…guided by familial research suggesting genetic links between the disorders…”  However, it is entirely possible that the grouping was done to increase the size of the high “pathology” group in order to make the association seem more robust.  It is also possible that the data was pre-examined and it was noticed that a large proportion of the poor-social-skills group had been assigned these other diagnoses in adulthood.

I have no way of knowing if any data massaging of this sort happened.  But the decision to group the diagnoses in this way, coupled with the sparseness of data in the write up, raises questions.  At the very least, it increases the chances of a predictive “hit” by the simple expedient of widening the target.

Another troubling aspect of the “diagnosis” grouping is that the authors are not using the term “schizophrenia spectrum disorders” in the same sense as DSM-5.  In particular, the authors have included the conditions known as paranoid and schizoid personality disorders, neither of which is included in the DSM-5 grouping.  This, I suggest, is important for two reasons.  Firstly, most readers on coming across this term in the title and in the abstract, would have assumed that it referred to the DSM-5 category.  At the very least, the authors should have stated explicitly that this is not the case – that in fact, they were using the term differently.  Secondly, and more importantly, the behaviors entailed in the paranoid personality and schizoid personality labels are entirely a function of social skills.  It is likely that individuals who meet these general descriptors would score very low on a social skills scale at age 11-13, and this may have been a major factor in depressing the overall score of the spectrum group.

Many credible accusations of data massage have been leveled at psychiatric researchers in recent years, and in this regard it would have been helpful if Tsuji et al. had published some more numerical data. Even the means and standard deviations of the “paranoid” and “schizoid” personality groups would have been useful.

PREDICTIVE VALUE OF THE RESULTS

As mentioned earlier, the title of the article is Premorbid teacher-rated social functioning predicts adult schizophrenia-spectrum disorder: A high-risk prospective investigation.

This, I suggest, is misleading.  The social functioning risk ratio for no mental illness vs. spectrum disorders was only 1.31 (with a 95% confidence interval of 1.17 to 1.46).  This does not indicate high predictive potential.  To illustrate this, imagine 100 envelopes spread out on a large table; 50 red and 50 blue.  A person is informed (truthfully) that half of the blue envelopes contain a $100 bill and the other half contain a go-to-jail-now card.  With the red envelopes, the odds are better – 19 jail cards and 31 $100 bills.  The person is invited to choose one envelope and open it.  If it is a jail card, he will be incarcerated.  If it contains a $100 bill, he gets to keep it.  Obviously, other things being equal, he should choose a red envelope, but he still runs a 38% chance of going to jail, versus a 50% with the blue envelopes.  The risk ratio for blue to red is about 1.31.  So, yes, the color red does predict dollars over jail – but the potential for error (i.e., jail) is still high.  Similarly, if a person were to use the five item social skills scale described in this study to predict a “schizophrenia spectrum disorder” in adulthood (odds ratio also 1.31), his prediction would be false a great deal of the time.  The word “significantly” in the abstract refers only to statistical significance, and indicates that the result is unlikely to have occurred by chance.  It has no bearing on the magnitude of the effect.

A more accurate title for the paper would be:

“Teacher-rated social functioning at age 10-13 (as measured by a five-item scale) is correlated modestly with acquiring a diagnosis of schizophrenia, or psychosis not otherwise specified or delusional disorder or schizotypal personality disorder or paranoid personality disorder or schizoid personality disorder, in adulthood.”

SOCIAL SKILLS

The great tragedy in this area is that poor social skills is an eminently remediable condition.  Social skills can be taught as easily, and as readily, as counting, spelling, and playing simple games.  Children, for instance, who are excessively boastful, which in later life will attract the label “grandiosity,” can be coached successfully to downplay their self-promotion and to pay compliments to others.  Ordinary conversational skills such as making eye contact, admitting to mistakes, smiling, allowing others an opportunity to speak,  etc., can all be coached without difficulty.  Conscientious parents have been doing this since the dawn of civilization, and probably even earlier.

Unfortunately, however, in the present time this kind of teaching often doesn’t take place.  While children who can’t count or read attract lots of remedial attention, the lack of social skills is somehow seen as an inherent defect that doesn’t lend itself to coaching.  Social skills are often conceptualized, even by teachers, as an integral part of “the child’s personality,” or as indicators of “deeper” problems, rather than skills that can be acquired, practiced, and cultivated in the normal way.  Children with deficits in this area are often sent to the mental health center, where they acquire various “diagnoses,” and are given the false and disempowering message that they are sick.  The Tsuji et al. study will lend unwarranted credence and support to this practice, in that it will be used to promote the notion that these individuals are “on a trajectory” to a “schizophrenia spectrum disorder,” and that this “trajectory” can be altered only by timely psychiatric intervention.

It is also the case that some people, children and adults, don’t want to socialize.  They prefer their own company, and often excel in various non-social areas.  The present drive towards “early intervention” will pathologize these individuals, and will draw them into psychiatry’s disempowering and destructive net – for their own good, of course.

AUTHORSHIP

Although Thomas Tsuji (a sixth-year grad student in the UBMC Department of Psychology) is shown as first author, it is clear the Jason Schiffman, PhD, is the principal investigator.  Under the heading “contributors,” the article states:  “Dr. Schiffman formulated, conducted, and/or oversaw the study design, data analysis, data interpretation and manuscript preparation.”  Dr. Schiffman is also listed as the “corresponding author,” with an address at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).  You can see his UMBC bio here.  His listed research interests are:  “Early identification and treatment of youth at risk for psychosis.  Reduction of stigma against people with serious mental health concerns.”

Some of Dr. Schiffman’s recent research publications are also listed.  Here are two quotes from these studies:

“Brief self-report questionnaires that assess attenuated psychotic symptoms have the potential to screen many people who may benefit from clinical monitoring, further evaluation, or early intervention.” (here)

“The validation of attenuated symptoms screening tools is an important step toward enabling early, wide-reaching identification of individuals on a course toward psychotic illness.” (here)

Dr. Schiffman is also on the staff of the Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness.  This agency was created last year by a $1.2 M grant from the State of Maryland as part of the state’s response to the problem of mass shootings in schools and other locations.  The center is headed by Robert Buchanan, MD, a professor of psychiatry at University of Maryland.  Dollars for Docs indicates that Dr. Buchanan received $34,520 from pharma in the period 2009-2012.  Information on the Center’s activities to date is sparse, but I did find two Baltimore Sun articles about the Center.  The first article, titled New Maryland mental health initiative focuses on identifying and treating psychosis by Jonathan Pitts, was published on October 21, 2013.  Here are two quotes:

“Research has shown those who eventually develop psychosis have often exhibited early warning signs, clues that give family members, teachers, health-care providers and others a chance to intervene early, if only they know what to look for.”

“The Clinical High-Risk program will be contacting schools, houses of worship, law enforcement and other communities that come into contact with youth to promote public awareness about such signs, Schiffman said, and clinicians will be available to provide testing and offer treatment options.”

 The second article, written by Jean Marbella, was published on March 21, 2014.  It’s titled UMBC study among efforts to increase awareness of mental illness.  Here are some quotes:

 “‘Many of the folks who need help get lost somehow,’ said Jason Schiffman, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County who is heading the study. ‘There are so many kids and young adults who slip through the cracks.'”

 “Schiffman has long been interested in early intervention and de-stigmatization programs for those suffering mental health problems, but more recently, his work is benefiting from a new focus on the role such illnesses may have played in some shootings.”

 And perhaps most telling of all:

“‘As a society, if we normalize the seeking of help,” he said, “people are more likely to seek that help.'”

There is it:  psychiatry for all.  A “diagnosis” for every problem and a pill for every “diagnosis.”

SUMMARY

And so it goes.  Psychiatry, reeling under an ever-increasing barrage of criticism, has taken nothing on board with regards to its spurious concepts and its destructive treatments.  Instead, it has hired a PR firm to polish up its image, and is actively cultivating the media and the politicians, with a view to embedding its concepts and practices more deeply into the legal and social fabric of our society.  It is also exploiting shamelessly the public concern about the mass murders to promote its own expansionist agenda, indifferent to the stigmatizing effect that this will have on millions of innocent, socially isolated teenagers..

A great deal of their present effort is directed at two main themes:  integration of psychiatry with primary care (a mental health worker in every GP’s office), and early intervention.  Watch out for media infomercials on these topics in your local newspapers, and for bills on these topics in your statehouses.  And please speak out.  Early intervention is just a catch-phrase to sell more drugs to children and to destroy more lives.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

DISCLAIMER

In critiquing a paper like Tsuji et al., it is difficult to avoid using psychiatry’s terminology.  My use of the terms “schizophrenia,” “schizoid personality disorder”, “schizophrenia spectrum disorders,” etc. should not be taken to imply any endorsement on my part of the validity of these concepts.  On the contrary, the central theme of this website is that these terms have no ontological or explanatory significance, and are nothing more than loosely defined labels which psychiatry uses and promotes to legitimize the prescription of psychiatric drugs.

  • Francesca Allan

    Schiffman’s wish for “early, wide-reaching identification of individuals on a course toward psychotic illness” seems to be at odds with his stated goal of reducing stigma against those with serious mental health concerns.

  • Anonymous

    You’re awesome Hickey. A real talent. A much needed talent.

    “but more recently, his work is benefiting from a new focus on the role such illnesses may have played in some shootings.”

    And perhaps most telling of all:

    “‘As a society, if we normalize the seeking of help,” he said, “people are more likely to seek that help.’”

    I didn’t know that modern western biomedicine had discovered any illnesses that cause the human body to pick up semiautomatic weapons, train on how to use them, carefully and premeditatively target places where large crowds of innocent people gather, and outsmart the cops by killing yourself before they get to the scene. I didn’t know modern western biomedicine had discovered any such “illnesses”. Amazing. What a discovery! Why hasn’t psychiatry won a Nobel Prize in Medicine since the one for the Lobotomy? Someone tell the Nobel Committee!

    Just yesterday, I was pondering how consciousness is a mystery, the hard problem, unexplained in detail by science, and I was thinking I wonder what the first human behavior to be fully explained from molecule to human action will be, would it be romantic love? Would it be someone’s career choice? Would it be sexual behavior? Would it be eating preferences? Would they start with something simple like tying shoelaces? Little did I know, that the world was about to be rocked by an astounding discovery! A little known small time Maryland psychology professor, would rock the foundations of philosophy, neuroscience and the entire enterprise of empirical human knowledge by discovering that mass shootings are caused by an “illness”, thereby short circuiting and launching into a tailspin the entire global search for the origins of consciousness and a total understanding of the biological etiology of human life! He took this one slice of life called 5 kids in 20 years shooting up schools, and was able to parse all the details, from the molecular reactions set in train by the Big Bang billions of years ago, to Adam Lanza reloading his gun with another clip full of rounds.

    Stephen Hawking is on his way to Maryland to pose in a photo with Schiffman, a private jet containing all living Nobel Laureates are on their way to Maryland to collectively cry tears of joy, the mystery has been solved. All this time we thought human life and conscousness was the most complex problem ever, we thought some kids just want to watch the world burn, we thought some kids are just so angry and full of hate at themselves and the world that they want to commit suicide after taking out as many innocents as they can, but all we had to do the entire time was ask Schiffman, he would have been to tell us, “it’s an illness”.

    Did he makes this astounding discovery on the autopsy table of any mass shooter? Did he make it in vivo while a shooter was still alive? Did he perform any biological investigation and find any biomarkers, no…. BECAUSE ALL THAT’S NEEDED IN PSYCHIATRY IS FOR PSYCHIATRY TO DECLARE A BEHAVIOR THE “SYMPTOM” OF AN “ILLNESS” AND THE WORLD OF SHEEP FALLS AT THEIR FEET. HERE’S 1.2 MILLION BUCKS OF TAX DOLLARS FOR YOUR NEW “RESEARCH CENTER” “DR.” SCHIFFMAN.

    Maybe we should “discover/declare” that far be it from the choice to orchestrate a premeditated mass shooting being an “illness”, the premeditated choice to flush your life down the toilet by becoming a “mental health professional” quack is an “illness”.

    What “illness”, “plays a role”, in the decision to be a gullible fool?

    Kill one person on the street with your car outside a school, you’re a criminal.

    Kill twenty inside a school, you’re a “patient”.

    Kill twenty in Iraq, you’re a “hero”.

    Kill one in a Texas execution chamber, you’re a “corrections employee”.

    Specialize in medicine, become a cardiac surgeon, you’re a decent practitioner of empirical, objective, modern western biomedicine.

    Specialize in psychiatry, rape the brains of people you forcibly drug using commitment laws, you’re a human rights criminal and we will never stop, ever, publicizing your pathetic pseudoscience and human rights crimes.

    In the end you’ve got to feel sorry for humanity, so immature and so quaint in their wishful thinking. “Oh the bad man just shot 20 kids! Why does this happen? Please tell us, oh holy experts!”. “An illness causes this evil to be visited upon mankind, give us more millions of tax dollars and we will be able to predict the future, thousands of kids will be stigmatized and drugged into oblivion even though we can prove nothing wrong with their biology, but we are all about stigma reduction, trust us”. And trust them society does, with the frontal lobes of MILLIONS OF KIDS.

    To think! This is supposed to be about the parents of America and their worst fears for what could happen to their kids when they go to school in the morning. The worst thing is a bullet in the brain from Adam Lanza. Second prize is a few pounds of psych drugs to the brain delivered over several years.

    Forget the fact that most of these shooters have been the “beneficiaries” of the mental “health” profession’s finest in the years leading up to their crimes.

    So send in the clowns, send in the mental “health” professionals into the schools, to “identify” and “test” (questionnaire under duress), the kiddies, and while you’re at it send in the military recruiters so that we can make sure these kids only grow up to put bullets in the heads of the “correct” strangers.

    Who knew! Apparently on the Mayflower 400 years ago, a couple had sex, and in that genetic material, that sperm and egg, was hiding an “illness”, that would one day materialize and commandeer innocent human beings “just like diabetes” and “cause” them to train in the desert with machine guns and blow the skull off the Astronaut’s wife Congresswoman. Who knew?

    Thank God psychiatry discovered this “serious genetic illness”.

    Nobel Prize! Now! Somebody get this profession another Nobel Prize! I know the last one was awarded for something so impressive as gouging out part of the brains of living human beings without consent but my word! These new “discoveries” about “Schizophrenia” are certainly going to save a lot of lives. I think they’ve finally solved school shootings. Expect no more school shootings. Presidential Medal of Freedom for this guy.

    Why’d I write such a long post? Well you see, it’s not my fault, I have an “illness”. In fact, psychiatry is so scientific that it can analyze the sperm of a cave man frozen in ice for 40,000 years and that genetic material explains not only why you chose to have steak for dinner tonight, but can explain why you trained in the desert in bomb making and marksmanship and shot up the move theater when it was full of people at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie… and if you disagree, there’s always a judge that will believe psychiatry’s story, and you’ll be flat on your face being held down and stabbed in the butt with a Thorazine injection in no time. Remember, who are you? You’re not a citizen with unalienable rights, you’re a diseased brain, that just happens to temporarily have rights, but government and its psychiatric goons can take away your humanity as needed, with the stroke of a pen, the whack of a gavel, you’re only conscious and looking out those eyes at this text on the screen in freedom because today a psychiatrist hasn’t decided to brutally pack rape your brain. That could all change in a heartbeat. They reserve the right! to enter your body, or your kid’s body, or your elderly parent’s body, because after all, they’re the “experts who are so expert at proving behavior is an illness they don’t even need to look inside the human body to prove it”. And you’ll give up your human body. You’ll accept their seed into your frontal lobes, and if you don’t, there’s always a psychiatrist ready to request permission from a judge to carry on an “open dialogue” with your forcibly split open bloodstream.

    What is the statistical, predictive value on whether a kid handed over to these vicious quacks in Maryland, will have their entire life screwed up by these quackery based “interventions”?

    Raised by minimum wage strangers in daycare, with a side dish of visits to the drug dispensing brain blamer, with an overarching message of inherent defect rammed down his throat for years, topped off with easy access to the family gun cabinet.

    They really should just cut to the chase, and put psych drug vending machines in schools, or spray a fine breathable mist of adderall from the overhead fire sprinklers. Or at the very least work psychiatry into the Common Core curriculum. If Jane has 200mg of Adderall and takes a pill-cutter and subtracts 60mg how many refills does she have left?

    Botched execution in Oklahoma? No problem. Just give more tax dollars to the NIMH to identify and treat the “illness” of “being a future murderer” and nothing evil will ever happen again. That’s the messianic modern faith of neuroblamers. That’s the holy grail they honestly believe is on the table. Divorce too, that can be done away with, because with enough research, they’ll have “brain scans” that you and your prospective romantic partner can take to predict the future compatibility of you two lovebirds. Oh and since we can predict who will have the poor social skills and grow up to shoot up the school, we will also be able to predict the electoral college results for the next 200 years of Presidential elections, and also live forever by downloading our memories to a computer, too. Yep. Everything you see around you and everything you ever did in your life and everything trillions of humans who ever lived or will ever live, including Shakespeare and Beethoven, that’s “dopamine”. All we need to do is trust the “experts”. Why’d you become an accountant? Your cingulate cortex made you do it. Why’d Adam Lanza shoot up the school? cingulate cortex again. That damn
    cingulate cortex, such a rascal.

    Treat, identify, treat, identify, treat, prevent, predict, treat, destigmatize help seeking behavior. Help heal the human condition by turning everything humans do into a “condition”.

    And they have the gall, the cojones, to label the poor young kids they lock up and forcibly drug as being “grandiose”.

    Psychiatry is a threat to everything good about being born into this world. It’s one of the most grotesque creations in the history of civilization. It is truly “up there” with some of the worst shit mankind has ever created. It must be exposed, separated from state like the pathetic faith based pseudomedical religion that it is, and future generations must face up to the menace it poses.

    Maybe we should cut open the concrete shell that encases Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear meltdown sites, cut a big hole, take some giant helicopters, dump every copy of the DSM into them, and seal it back up, protect the world from this ideological slow motion nuclear catastrophe, pack it in lead lined concrete, and get back to seeing our fellow humans eye to eye, not as pulsating cingulate cortexes that need to be explained to us by violent, human rights abusing quacks who have never discovered a damn thing, but rather just rely on our passivity and expect the world to accept their pronouncements, the “illness” dogma.

    A guy can dream.

    Dream that one day Adam Lanza will be judged on the content of his character, not passed off as some product of the primordial soup gone wrong, the human behavioral equivalent of a cancer cell. Adam Lanza showed us what he thought of this world and the people in it by his actions.

    If there’s anything that my first hand personal experience of the phenomena that get spuriously labeled “serious mental illness” or “psychosis” taught me, well and truly, it’s that EVERY HUMAN BEING, including collectively institutions and professions and societies, see what they wanna see. If they wanna see a brain disease, they’ll see a brain disease. We have a few hundred years of this infantile crap to work through yet, I fear, before humankind wakes up to the damage of this dehumanizing worldview, if at all they ever will. I have to believe they will, if I didn’t believe there was hope, I’d exit.

    I’ll let Adam Lanza have the last word… here he is calling into John Zerzan’s radio show a year before his crime.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJLiIQ9a0eU

  • Sweet63

    lack of social skills is somehow seen as an inherent defect that doesn’t lend itself to coaching I thought the nature vs nurture issue was “settled” on the side of nurture, yet these “troubling” traits are seen as inherent nature. Funny that.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Francesca,

    Yes. This is the reality that they simply never want to face: that a “diagnosis of mental illness” is inherently stigmatizing and disempowering.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Sweet 63,

    Nice to hear from you again. At present psychiatry’s only priority is PR – cleaning up their shattered image, and retaining control. Facts and realities are very much of a secondary concern.

    Best wishes.

  • T.A. Anderson

    Hickey, I think I might know how some can be driven to this behavior that is being called schizophrenia.

    The only way to give any meaning to the word schizotypy is to think of it as a way of thinking. Those with high schizotypy think utilizing an analytical thought process involving overly inclusive consideration of variables or what is known as divergent thinking. For the high schizotypy thinkers the result of their thinking is the great epiphany. The great irony and the Achilles heel for the childhood high schizotypy thinker is that in sharing the epiphany, he/she risks being mistaken as a delusional thinker. In possession of the “right” answer, the young schizotypy thinker struggles to provide satisfactory explanation. In this attempt to provide explanation the young thinker encounters doubt, misunderstanding, and ridicule. This struggle is compounded by the young thinkers anxiety and frustration of knowing he/she has the great thought but is unable to effectively communicate it. Imagine the resulting nightmare for this young thinker who instead of being recognized as being in possession of great insight, instead finds him/herself being labeled as delusional. Similar to the feeling one would get for being in prison for a crime they did not commit.

    FYI, I arrived at this great epiphany at the age of 5 years of age and am still trying to master the explanation.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Anonymous,

    Thanks for coming in. That was truly an amazing quote: “…his work is benefiting from a new focus on the role such illnesses may have played in some shootings.” The notion of his work benefiting from these tragedies is an odd way of conceptualizing the situation. But it’s an accurate way of describing psychiatry’s present scare-mongering.

    Thanks also for the Adam Lanza link. Of course, we don’t really need to pay any attention to it, because we know that he was on a trajectory to psychosis, and that’s why he did what he did. Isn’t psychiatry such a comfort!

    Best wishes.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Phil.

  • Phil_Hickey

    TA,

    This is a nice insight, and I have no doubt that the scenario you describe applies to some individuals – perhaps many. The adult world of teachers, parents, other relatives, etc., is usually suspicious of novel ideas, and these are often greeted with resistance. But I also believe that there are always multiple paths to the same place.

    Of course, dismissing these children as “on a trajectory to illness” solves everybody’s problem. Everybody’s except the child!

  • Nadia

    I think something to consider is the type of person who is generally attracted to the teaching field. I posit that these are people that have been socially successful for their entire lives (because they work in a highly social field) and would tend to think of social skills as “natural” and thus see people with less natural social skills as damaged somehow. I think this is actually a really common view in general in our society since the majority of people, especially those in authority positions, are socially adept and have no concept of what it’s like to not be so.

  • Phil_Hickey

    Nadia,

    I think you are absolutely correct! It’s so easy to slip into this frame of reference – especially as you say, for people who have the skills and who take them for granted. An enormous amount of heartache and suffering could be avoided if the schools would begin to address this issue.

  • all too easy

    THE EVIDENCE IS MASSIVE, GROWING AND

    in·con·tro·vert·i·ble

    ˌinkäntrəˈvərdəb(ə)l/

    adjective: incontrovertible

    not able to be denied or disputed.”incontrovertible proof”

    synonyms:indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, beyond dispute, unquestionable, beyond question, indubitable, beyond doubt, unarguable, undebatable;

    Newborns’ attention linked to later childhood behavioural problems

    Babies’ looking patterns in the first few days of life have been linked to later behavioural problems in childhood in new research from Birkbeck, University of London, London Metropolitan University and the University of Padua in Italy.

    The research found an association between individual differences in visual attention to objects among newborn babies in the first days after birth and later behavioural problems in later childhood, including hyperactivity and problems in relationships with peers.

    Senior author Dr Angelica Ronald, of the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck, University of London, said: “We’ve found for the first time that there’s a significant link between the way in which newborn babies look at images and their later temperament and behaviours in childhood, such as hyperactivity. Because the babies were only just born when we observed their looking patterns, the influences that made these newborns differ between each other in their visual attention style are likely to be present at birth. This rules out the environment after birth, and leaves either genetic predispositions or influences from the environment the baby experiences in the womb.” “Spending relatively longer looking at each individual stimulus as a newborn was associated with having fewer behaviour problems and fewer impulsive and overactive behaviours in middle childhood.”

    The study, published today in Scientific Reports and funded by the European Union, the Waterloo Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC), builds on earlier work by the research team which found a link between differences in attention among seven-month-old infants and later childhood behavioural problems, to examine for the first time whether a similar link exists for newborns.

    Department of Psychological Sciences / News / Newborns’ attention linked to later childhood behavioural problems

    BIRKBECK UNIVERSITY OF LONDON