Thursday, June 3, 2010

Suspend disbelief

Another variation on the creativity theme is one that I found put me in good stead for going holistic. In a BBC News article reporting on the recent findings from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden linking creativity to schizophrenia, psychologist Gary Fitzgibbons says that "an ability to 'suspend disbelief' is one way of looking at creativity. "When you suspend disbelief you are prepared to believe anything and this opens up the scope for seeing more possibilities."

Creative people and people with schizophrenia see unusual connections in problem solving that others miss. Psychiatry has traditionally labelled this as "psychotic thinking" in its patients. The problem is, when it tips into psychosis, people see too many possibilities. An embarassment of riches, so to speak.

In order for me to move past the straightjacket thinking that is the medicalized model of schizophrenia, I had to suspend many disbeliefs that were really society disbeliefs (individuals have always held beliefs that go against society, but these are considered "unsanctioned" and heretical beliefs). I had to embrace ideas that "everybody knows" are wrong, such as the belief that vitamins are an effective tool for treating schizophrenia, or the belief that the family contributes to mental illness. On this last point, lots of people will say, sure, sure, of course families contribute to mental illness, but they may equate mental illness with mild depression or troublesome personalities, which just about everybody understands on some level. Psychosis is a different beast, entirely. When you observe psychotic behavior, it seems really freaky and foreign. That's where you have to suspend your wanting to disbelieve that it is an understandable reaction to a trauma. No, no, no, people may say, psychosis must be a brain disease because it's so weird. Nobody would act that way unless they were sick, because everybody else in the family is "normal."

Suspending disbelief opens up avenues of possibilities. Entrepreneurs have often said that they simply weren't aware that something couldn't be done. If that kind of thinking is admired in business and science, it should also be encouraged in healing. So what if it doesn't work for you? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Here's a comment I sent to the New York Times in response to the article Alzheimers Stalks a Colombian Family. I have reprinted reader "Jonathan"'s response to my comment afterwards. I never waste a chance to introduce a healing thought. Some people will take it. Others, like Jonathan, well, you'll read what he has to say.

Rossa Forbes

How many people are aware of Dr. Abram Hoffer's thoughts on preventing alzheimers and dementia? Not many, I am guessing. Dr. Hoffer is otherwise known for his treatment of schizophrenia using high doses of niacin and vitamin C in combination with B-complex. When my memory started to falter in my early fifties, I followed his advice and saw huge results within three days. There is something that can be done that doesn't involve waiting for dubious drugs with side effects. I believe that I read about this discovery in Dr. Hoffer's book, How to Live with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia used to be called dementia praecox, because doctors at the time felt it was similar to the dementia that is observed in the elderly. They changed their mind when they realized that schizophrenia doesn't always take a downward course. Dr. Hoffer also said that the megavitamin therapy is preventative - once dementia has set in, the vitamins offer limited benefit.

Jonathan from Chicago responds:

Every time there is a medically related article, the quacks come out of the woods to pimp their high dosage Vitamin C and other supplements. Do they really think high dosages of supplements come with no side effects?

Orthomolecular medicine has been discredited since the 1970s. Your quack fudged the numbers.


  1. "Do they really think high dosages of supplements come with no side effects?"
    I take vitamins in the morning.
    Side effects from too high a vitamin dose is possible, but these numbers are documented.
    I haven't checked my numbers though.

  2. From Andrew Saul's excellent website


    The American Association of Poison Control Centers, which maintains the USA’s national database from 61 poison control centers, indicates that even including intentional and accidental misuse, the number of vitamin fatalities is less than one death per year.

    Drugs, however, are an entirely different matter:

    “Harmful reactions to some of the most widely used medicines — from insulin to a common antibiotic — sent more than 700,000 Americans to emergency rooms each year, landmark government research shows.” (Associated Press, Oct 17, 2006)


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