Monday, October 29, 2012

David Healy on the link between schizophrenia and suicide

There's actually some good news here.


  1. Somehow, and although I've read very little by Healy, I expected this kind of oversimplified take on the matter. So, we just ask people which drug they prefer. What if they prefer none? Then maybe they can have some ECT?... Also, and Healy should know this, suppress dopamine, and what you get is dysphoria, no matter what the name of the dopamine suppressor, what color the box it comes in. So much so that "depression" after the acute crisis today by many shrinks is regarded part of the "illness". Oh, and the guidelines for OPUS, the Danish early intervention project, then actually recommend to add an antidepressant to the cocktail. Not ask the "patient" if they like their Seroquel, or maybe would prefer Zyprexa.

    Certainly drug effects play a significant role in this, but what really puts me off with Healy's piece is that he uses these drug effects to cover up for a, IMO, somewhat bigger elephant in the mental illness system, the fact that a lot of people, and especially those newly labelled and drugged, do have a lot of good reasons to off themselves like having been told they suffer from a horrible, life-long brain disease, experiencing the effects of the drugs, also those other than dysphoria, and being told it's all in their head, or that they need to live with it, having their experience discounted as meaningless madness, having been locked up, and both physically and emotionally abused, and retraumatised, and then being scared to death that it might happen again, or, if still in there, just not able to cope with it anymore, and and and. Healy, like most of his colleagues, obviously has never listened to the people he thinks are brain diseased, he's never asked those, who tried to off themselves and did survive, why they tried. Healy doesn't like psych drugs. But he still believes firmly in the brain disease bs, and so those "schizophrenics" of course can't really have good reason for offing themselves, or for doing anything else for that sake, and, in his particular case, instead of being the "illness'", it's all the drugs' fault. That way, he doesn't have to face that, more often than not, it's exactly what he himself stands for, that drives people into suicide.

    But the statistics, the numbers are useful!

  2. Hi, Marian. Good to hear from you. Healy is a research psychopharmacologist, first, last and always, so it is not surprising that he views people (patients) in terms of adding and subtracting medications. Your points are well taken. What I liked about this particular piece is that he says the Welsh study shows that suicide is not a biological outcome of schizophrenia. (IMO, Chris's doctors tried to scare us by holding out the spectre of suicide as a reason to get on the drugs!) What you are saying is that suicide can be the result of the "diagnosis" of schizophrenia and all that it entails. Healy observes that suicides are happening before people really get discouraged, so he claims it must be the drugs.

  3. In my experience David Healy is absolutely right in what he is saying. Olanzapine made my son sluggish and incapable of thinking clearly or of concentrating on nothing. If that is what life is going to be in the future, I might as well kill myself he said. Doctors refused to help him off the meds, so he tried to do it himself slowly. It was still much too fast and the withdrawal symptoms drove him right crazy: he developed akathisia and could not sleep at all. Rather than going back on meds, he tried to kill himself. If he is alive today it is due to pure luck.


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