Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bob Chiarelli speaks for the first time about his son's schizophrenia

Bob Chiarelli is an Ottawa and provincial politician who is contemplating a bid for the Ontario Liberal leadership. This story appeared today in the Ottawa Citizen.

It's frustrating for me that no comments on this article are allowed, and I assume it is a way of protecting the man and the position from some of the more outrageous things that the public likes to say in comment boxes. If comments were allowed, I would respectfully take issue with the dismal depiction of schizophrenia as a life long brain disorder and chemical imbalance, and with the notion expressed in the article that "medications are so much better" these days - an opinion that is compromised by the mounting evidence about the ineffectiveness of the drugs and the side effects.  I was astonished to read that Chiarelli's son Christopher was on 100 pills a day when he was first hospitalized. 100 pills a day? Did I read that right?

My sympathy is very much with Mr. Chiarelli and his family in their bereavement. My issue is with the continued spreading of pessismism, by the media and through the media, about "schizophrenia." How can one recover or help others to recover when the condition is draped in black cloth? So called "mental" illness is considered after all, mental, and therefore IS particularly amenable to a positive thinking approach.

Casual readers of the Citizen story will come away with the same dismal view of schizophrenia that has the effect of preventing the public at large from learning that, properly understood and handled, "schizophrenia" is not a life-time sentence. (Talk about stigma!) When I read articles like this, I ask myself, what if members of my extended family read this?  Would they assume my son will eventually work full time, get married and lead an otherwise productive life, OR, would they, like the general public absorb the pessimistic message? My guess is the latter.  Unlike me, my family hasn't needed to be up to speed on the latest research and controversies about the label, so they may rely on articles like these to tell them what's what.

I hope that Mr. Chiarelli will continue to work for mental health organizations, and will keep an open mind about the good news coming out of today's recovery movement.


  1. "...about 3 out of 5 (M.I.) die from mostly preventable diseases"
    The schizophrenic son smoked.
    Why did he neglect his health?
    From the diagnosis and treatment possibly.

    Treatment like
    "The antipsychotics block 70-90 percent of the dopamine receptors in the brain. In (response) return, the brain sprouts about 50 percent extra dopamine receptors. It tries to (compensate) become extra sensitive. So in essence you've created an imbalance in the dopamine system in the brain. You (now) have too many dopamine receptors" Robert Whitaker

    Nicotine from smoking "In small concentrations, nicotine increases the activity of these (brain) receptors. Nicotine also has effects on a variety of other neurotransmitters through less direct mechanisms." wikipedia

    Drug for a drug for a drug...

    1. I think it was the diagnosis and treatment that neglected his health, as you suggest. His tragic and too early death was preventable. The medical profession did him, and continues to do to thousands of others, a huge disservice. The profession, IMO, has been only too willing to say "there is nothing that one can do" (other than take medications) if you have a diagnosis of SZ. So, if you want to smoke, well, go ahead, because it soothes you. I don't know if niacin (nicotinimide) in high doses was ever considered, but doctors routinely dismiss these natural remedies as "dangerous and untested." It takes a lot of courage to go against what a doctor authoritatively states, and a lot of people just aren't inclined to take their health into their own hands under these conditions.


I am no longer approving comments. All I ask is that you be respectful of others and refrain from using profanity.