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Does the mental health system have “negative symptoms?”

In a recent article, “Form of CBT Can Improve Stubborn Psychosis Symptoms“, by Mark Moran, it is stated that

Patients with schizophrenia having the most severe negative symptoms appear to endorse certain defeatist and asocial beliefs, as well as have low expectations of success or pleasure, characteristics that may be amenable to a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy.

That’s important because the severe negative symptoms of “deficit-syndrome” patients have been presumed by some to be the result of neurobiological deficits that often do not respond either to antipsychotic medication or to standard psychosocial treatments. The “deficit syndrome” is thought to characterize a pathophysiologically distinct subgroup of patients with schizophrenia whose negative symptoms—blunted affect, anhedonia, avolition, and asociality—are enduring features that do not appear to be secondary to other aspects of schizophrenia.

But in an address titled “Defeatist Beliefs, Asocial Beliefs, and Low Expectations: The Emerging Cognitive Behavioral Science of Negative Symptoms and the Deficit Syndrome” at the International Congress of Schizophrenia Research (ICOSR), Paul Grant, Ph.D., described preliminary research showing that these chronic patients appear to endorse negative beliefs that may respond to goal-directed cognitive therapy.

This is interesting for two reasons.

One is that if offers hope that some professionals may finally be figuring out how to help people who have these kinds of problems, rather than just theorizing that nothing can be done.

But the second reason it is interesting is that it gives us an opportunity to contemplate for a minute the “negative symptoms” that the mental health system typically manifests in relation to people diagnosed with schizophrenia.

  • defeatist beliefs – such as the belief that people with this diagnosis will never recover.
  • asocial beliefs – such as the belief that one shouldn’t talk with people with this diagnosis in any detail about their unusual experiences or perspectives.
  • anhedonia – such as never taking any joy in the positive aspects of psychotic experience or noticing the creative potential of people who get diagnosed.
  • avolition – such as, no motivation to try and understand the person or to provide psychological therapy

I’m not condemning the mental health system for having these “symptoms” but just emphasizing that these are human problems, and we all can fall victim to them, and when we do, it’s great if someone helps us get free of them!

And I do suggest reading the article, free at Form of CBT Can Improve Stubborn Psychosis Symptoms

3 comments… add one
  • Dr. Ryke Geert Hamer, the founder of the German New Medicine, says that the actual cause of cancer is an unexpected shock ,but that the hopelessness, despair and meaninglessness felt by the patient after the diagnosis of the cancer and other diseases creates chronic stress, which prevents these diseases from healing. (He maintains that schizophrenia also arises from a shock.) What I get out of this is that if the doctor tells you that you have “schizophrenia” you then have a much harder job of recovery than if you never received this “diagnosis.”

    • Rossa, agreed! And one thing is the label, an additional is the treatment, in the broadest sense of the word, that is justified by the label. Many, if not most, people who receive the label start their career in the system on a locked ward. All, and I mean really everything, and down to the smallest details, I’ve so far witnessed going on there has me suspect that the staff actually is trained in spotting the least attempt by a “patient” to maintain some sort of hope and control of their own situation, and immediately clamp down on it. What remains is complete helplessness and fear = extreme stress. And then they come and tell you that, because of your alleged “disease” which makes you allegedly more vulnerable to it than the average person is, you have to avoid stress…

      • I only wish I knew then what I know now, which applies to just about anything in my life so far. It’s hard to resist psychiatry once confined to an institution. Then it’s all downhill from there!