Thursday, April 15, 2010

Biology of relief

Here is how I read a book of non-fiction these days. I begin with the index and look for "schizophrenia" then flip back to the relevant pages. (I often feel I have read the book just by becoming intimately acquainted with what's in the index.) My "schizo positive" meter is constantly scanning for the author's "take" on this condition. Is the author "schizo positive" or "schizo negative?" So, it was a bit surprising to pick up The Biology of Belief, a book about how thoughts are much more controlling of health outcomes than one would imagine, and discover how the author classifies schizophrenia. Bruce Lipton refers to schizophrenia as a disease.

This may simply be an oversight on his part, because the book is not at all about schizophrenia, though it could be, given all its emphasis on quantum physics and energy psychology. These topics are schizophrenia's home turf.

The book is about epigenetics, the study of inherited changes in gene appearance that do not change the underlying DNA sequence. These changes can come from the environment, can last for the life of the cell and express themselves over generations.

This book makes a good case that the environment before conception is vitally important to the general well-being of the unborn child. Epigenetics explains why genetically related siblings in the same family are born into a unique environment. We don't treat all our children alike because the parents circumstances change before, during and after conception. Maybe we had financial worries, didn't plan to become pregnant, or argued constantly in the process of marital adjustment. The list of hazards can be endless. All of this sounds kind of hopeless and Darwinian, were it not for the fact that people can change their cellular biology by changing their thought patterns, which can also come about by a change of environment. Moreover, cells replace themselves completely every seven to ten years, so you are not the person you thought you were. You can renew yourself.

Epigenetics shows that there can be a positive outcome to the negative diagnosis that mainstream medicine hands you, no matter whether it is a mental health diagnosis or something else. It also dovetails very nicely with the Family Constellation Therapy that our family undertook. Family Constellation Therapy acknowledges that people with schizophrenia are particularly prone to "atonement" of a generation's past wrongs. Through identifying the family drama, "acting" it out, and through the act of forgiveness, healing is effected at the deepest levels.


  1. It's really everywhere, the us and them-thinking when it comes to "sz". A couple of days ago, I got an email from a friend mentioning Ethan Watters' essay "The Americanization of Mental Illness". Great essay, all in all, but also Watters seems to think that if there is a mental illness that truly is a disease it's "schizophrenia". Everything else can probably be explained as caused by life problems. Not "sz". Correspondingly, I came across a discussion at a Danish forum tonight, about the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. At some point a psychiatrist in training weighs in, explaining that psychologists are a lot better equipped when it comes to solving life problems, that psychiatrists are medical doctors with very little training in psychology, and that, basically, all they know is how to write a prescription. So true! But then this: The only thing psychiatrists are better at than psychologists is - well guess. Yeah, right: "schizophrenia". What?! Well, of course, since this is the one and only true brain disease among the "mental illnesses" (because it simply is too bizarre to be a natural reaction to life events). - The latter wasn't explicitly stated, but no doubt that it's this psychiatrist in training's conviction.

    To a certain extent, I can ignore it when it comes from people who have neither personal nor professional experiences with "sz", and who therefor rely on what the "experts" say, like Watters or Bruce Lipton (although, someone should maybe educate them). It makes me feel sick when it comes from the "experts" themselves.

  2. These experts are trained that way. They are experts at viewing schizophrenia as a brain disease and they are experts at prescribing drugs. Once a particular theory becomes entrenched into medical training it's difficult, but not impossible, to change.

    You may be following the recent advances in MS treatment. For years it was thought that an autoimmune response had the body attack the myelin insultating nerves in the brain. A doctor however recently proposed and has initiated treatment on the basis that what is occurring is the affected individual has blocked veins. It appears to be revolutionizing the way the medical community views MS.

    The point is these medical paradigms shift.

  3. That's right, it's not an oversight on Lipton's part, it's knee-jerk training. It is a brain disease because everybody knows it's a brain disease.

  4. I think, it will take a whole lot more to bring about change in regard to how "schizophrenia" is defined, than what it takes to change the definition of any somatic illness. Several reasons: 1. It is impossible to produce 100% certain proof, "hard evidence", of "sz" to be caused by trauma, since trauma can't be measured like physiological changes in the body can be. The closest we've come so far is that studies have shown childhood trauma to change genes and brain structure. Still, the believers in the biological model question the validity of such studies. Maybe it's all just a coincidence...

    2. "Schizophrenia" is indeed psychiatry's "holy cow". Without "sz", no psychiatry (and it's not that I deny the existence of a kind of existential suffering that expresses itself in the way/-s we refer to as "schizophrenia"; all I mean is that if "sz" is not a disease - of the brain - but a reaction to traumatic life experiences, it is obvious that helping people with these problems wouldn't require any medical training but quite different qualifications).

    3. To change how people in the kind of emotional distress that gets labelled "sz" are perceived, how "sz" is perceived, it needs a lot more than a change in how the "experts" perceive these people, respectively the phenomenon itself. It needs a rather radical change in society on a whole. Somatic diseases are not challenging society's norms and values in the same way as "mental illness", especially "sz" does. - Although the so-called "life style diseases" do to a certain extent. Since society can be said to have created and to support the life style that causes these diseases. - If "sz" is acknowledged a reaction to trauma, this means that our society, our culture, our civilization, in fact can be dysfunctional, traumatizing, to an extent that most people, especially those in power, can't accept it to be dysfunctional. Psychiatry is not a medical speciality in the same way as other medical specialities are. It is more of a force of law and order, society's mind police, established to protect society's norms and values, not to protect humanity from disease.


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