Sunday, November 11, 2012

Schizophrenia Commission not re-thinking schizophernia label

Louise Gillett writes about Rethink Mental Illness Members' Day and other matters in her most recent post. Status and the status quo, continue to be alive and well in England, like they are in so many other countries where official "commissions" are established to preserve the status quo. Shame, shame!

Here's an excerpt from Louise's blog, Schizophrenia at the Schoolgate:

I suffered a major disappointment yesterday - I learned that the Schizophrenia Commission have not recommended that the label be abolished or changed as I had hoped.  (The report is not due to be published until next week but I feel no sense of loyalty that would prevent me from publishing this 'spoiler'). 

I was not actually surprised to find out that the label has not been changed - I suspected as much by the fact that after asking me to write a case study (of my own case) I was asked if I would mind if it was 'tweaked' to reflect the fact that some members of the Commission do not agree with my view of the damage done by the diagnosis of schizophrenia.  After some thought I rejected my instinct towards compliance and wrote back to say that if they did use my case study I would prefer the wording left intact.  They agreed to use the case study as I wrote it, and apparently it has been included in the report (although I think anonymously.  I am not sure, I have not seen it, but one of the other Trustees who I spoke to yesterday dropped a big hint to this effect).  Although of course, it might be removed after I have published this blog post!

So I had an inkling of what the outcome of this report would be - and it was confirmed as soon as I saw the title of Robin Murray's*  talk at the meeting yesterday - 'What next for the Schizophrenia Commission?'

So the Schizophrenia Commission will continue - having already let down the people they are supposed to be helping.

I am staggered that they haven't effected the change.  Robin Murray was questioned on the subject by a member of the audience and he couldn't produce a coherent reply - he stuttered and stumbled over the issue, saying there were differing views, even claiming that, 'The Schizophrenia Commission doesn't have the power to say one way or another' (really, Sir Robin?).  Eventually he told us that although the diagnosis had been changed in some countries it wasn't going to happen here at the moment, but that maybe in a few years time, things would be different.

Rossa's comment: Do we think this guy's going to change the system?

Robin Murray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Robin MacGregor Murray (born 1944) is professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry (Kings College, London, United Kingdom).[1] He also sees patients with schizophrenia and bipolar illness at the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. He is originally from Glasgow. Murray is part of The Psychosis Research Group, one of the largest outside the United States. It uses a range of methods to improve understanding and treatment of psychotic illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. For the decade from 1997 to 2007, Murray was ranked as the 8th most influential researcher in psychiatry by Thomson Reuters' Science Watch[2] and 3rd in schizophrenia research.[3] In 1994 he was the president of the European Association of Psychiatrists; now the European Psychiatric Association. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (elected 2010) and also a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.[1] Murray is co-editor-in-chief of Psychological Medicine.[4] In 2009 Murray had a public disagreement with David Nutt in the pages of The Guardian about the dangers of cannabis in triggering psychosis.[5] Murray previously wrote that while the risk increase is "about five-fold [...] for the heaviest users", the issue has become political football.[3] Murray has commented repeatedly on these issues in BBC articles and programmes,[6][7][8] including in a Panorama documentary on BBC One.[9][10] He has also been critical of the proposed use of cannabis for its anti-depressive effects as a "very big leap of faith" based solely on preclinical data.[11] Murray was knighted in the 2011 New Year Honours for his services to medicine.[12]


  1. Hi Rossa

    Yes, I did have high hopes for the Commission at one point - when they invited people with the diagnosis to London to 'Give Evidence' they really gave the impression that our opinions mattered. In the end, though, having a psychiatrist as the chair obviously totally skewed the outcome!

    Shame - because there were some lovely and understanding people on the commission - for example Alison Brabban, a clinical psychologist, who gets the issues exactly, and the Health Editor from the Independent (can't remember his name at the moment, but I did get the feeling that he too was rational and would perhaps help further the cause of decency and human kindness).

    Thanks for following my post up though. x x

    1. Alison Brabban, hm, I don't know... I heard her at the World Hearing Voices Congress earlier this year in Cardiff, and I must admit that it was the usual CBT nonsense, this time illustrated with a, uhm, bucket parable -- sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it, the bucket... -- and accompanied by a truly heart-breaking jeremiad about us mean, mean voice hearers who keep being suspicious toward the poor, poor, only well-intentioned CBT-knowalls, er, therapists, like herself. "Why, oh why are you sooo mean to us???" Incredible.

      My impression, hearing her talk about how CBT (oh, and also these early intervention teams for "psychosis", one of which she is a member of) was just sooo respecting its, uhm, "patients" (there the respect went, bye bye) was actually that Alison Brabban hadn't got anything exactly. Indeed it had me wonder which planet she's living on as it impossibly can be earth.

  2. What about replacing the term with something simple and easy to understand - "fellow human being?"


  3. The "schizophrenia" labeling continues here in the U.S. also, due in large part to psychiatrists like Dr. David M. Allen, who insists it is a "brain disease" and that only he (and a few other elites) posess the skills and training to recognize this "illness" and provide "proper treatment."

    Never mind the subjective drugging, the grave harm to many, the abysmal track record... A reminder of the line from a classic - "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. The great and powerful Oz has spoken."

    IMO, Dr. Allen exemplifies the arrogance of his profession. He marginalizes any voice of dissent, especially those who ask good questions, and present facts that challenge the satus quo.

    IMO, he is a member of the pseudo-reform movement, which will continue to hang on to the "schizophrenia" label for dear-life, knowing that when the "schizophrenia" myth dies, so does the entire psychiatric profession (as has been pointed out on your blog more than once).

    In this post (and with his comments that follow), he dismisses the work of Dr. Thomas Szasz, calling him a "crank." -


    1. In fairness, he agrees with the author who called him a "crank."

      Gotta love Dr. Allen.
      Or, not!


    2. Hi, Duane,
      With great reluctance I clicked on the link to Allen's post. I read it exactly as you called it -- psychiatry fearing that Szasz killed the goose that lays the golden egg. Defensive - in the extreme. I gave up a while ago trying to pry Dr. Allen away from the golden egg (schizophrenia) and a secondary reason for my giving up was his consistently poor spelling. At least he spelled Szasz's name right in this post (at least I think he did, if my memory serves), but he also routinely misspells the names of medications, which is scary, if you're the patient.

    3. I should have made it clearer. Dr. Allen has routinely misspelled Szasz's name in the past. I don't want to give him too much credit for spelling it correctly. The obit was right there in front of him, so there would have been no excuse. While I am warming to the subject, here's a delicious retort by Dr. Allen to a comment on the post.

      "I, for one, can tell the difference between schizophrenia and personality disorders.

      (I heard Szasz speak in person spouting his nonsense, and it was quite easy to understand how full of crap he was)."

      Well, there are two things I could say. 1. Where's the science behind the first statement and 2. it's unseemly for a supposed professional of any stripe to get hot under the collar and resort to using words like "crap" and, on other occasions "sheesh." Psychiatrists, especially, should avoid using colloquialisms when they put fingers to keypad, IMHO.

    4. We're on the same page.

      He likes to quote Einstein.
      He's a lot of things... but, he's no Einstein!


  4. Replies
    1. Thanks for joining! I hope I can be of service.


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